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The Medicare program is a government-run health provision program that covers people over the age of 65 and those people with some sort of special condition. It is what's known as a single-payer health care system, and operates as one of the largest social insurance programs in the world. The Medicare program itself is broken down into multiple parts and it seeks to provide just about everything that elderly people might need in terms of medical coverage. In the almost 50 years that the program has been in existence, it has provided quality coverage for millions of American citizens.

Medicare Supplemental Insurance

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Many people use Medicare supplemental insurance to augment their current insurance plans. Medicare supplemental insurance is important because it provides individuals with a way to purchase their necessary drugs and it gives them protection if they ever enter the hospital for an extended period of time. Though there are a huge number of people who use Medicare as their only means of funding medical coverage, those individuals with employer-provided health care plans and personal health care plans are able to use Medicare for this supplemental element. It can act as a powerful policy for covering any over the top costs that typical insurance policies might miss.

Medicare Part A

When we talk about the program, we have to start at the beginning. Medicare Part A is one of the biggest portions of the coverage and it's arguably the most important. Medicare Part A is actually the hospital insurance consideration that goes into the program. One of the biggest costs associated with getting sick has to do with staying in the hospital. As many have figured out, hospitals charge big bucks for extended stays and these things can really add up over the course of many months. Medicare Part A makes sure that people have coverage for their extended stay, a semi-private room, food, tests, and any doctor's fees that go along with the stay. Medicare Part A will cover a person for a 100-day hospital stay, with the first 20 days being completely covered and the last 80 days being covered with a patient co-pay of roughly $133.

Medicare Part B

The second part of the government issued plan is Medicare Part B. While the first part deals with the costs associated with going to the hospital, Medicare Part B takes time to cover the elements not readily covered in the first provision. The main considerations in this portion of Medicare are outpatient procedures, since Part A is much more interested in covering long term hospital stays. For patients who need tests like X-rays, CT-scans, and MRI procedures, Medicare Part B is what makes that happen. It covers any sort of evasive treatments, like blood transfusions or transfers. Another very important part of the Medicare Part B coverage has to do with the coverage for things like wheelchairs and walking canes. It also provides eyeglasses and breathing oxygen, among other things.

Medicare Part C

A more complicated part of this government plan is known as Medicare Part C. This has also been referred to as the Medicare+Choice plan, and it provides options for people who have reached qualifying age. This is the part of the Medicare plan that allows people to still get their applicable benefits through a private insurance plan. Medicare Part C has been very important for those people who have their own insurance, but still want to benefit from the Medicare that they have already paid for over the course of their lives. When a person signs up for Medicare Part C, they are usually given a list of private health insurance companies that they can use, and they will pay a monthly premium on top of the Medicare provision for things that might not be covered by Part A and Part B. Some of those things include prescription drugs, which makes up an important cost for many older people. This is a plan that many fewer people take advantage of, but it provides a big time level of coverage.

Medicare Part D

For many people, Medicare Part D is the most important part of the program. This is what covers the prescription drug needs of many individuals and it helps to save money for these older people. Medicare Part D is a relatively new creation in terms of the government program, having only been in effect since 2006. Under the provisions set forth in Medicare Part D, any person who has Part A or Part B is also eligible to be covered by Part D. This portion of Medicare covers almost all drugs that a person might need, and those who want to enroll have to choose a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP). The drugs that are not covered under Medicare Part D are usually covered by Medicaid for people who qualify for both plans.

Medicare Benefits

There are many Medicare benefits that people can take advantage of. As mentioned above, the ability to have a hospital stay that is almost three weeks without ever having to pay a dime is one of the most important Medicare benefits out there today. Depending upon which part of the plan you qualify for, you could have a host of Medicare Benefits at your disposal. The long-term hospital benefits are important, as are the outpatient procedures that are also covered. Part D has been the most starting of the plans, since it allows people to get the drugs that they need in order to survive. These are all equally important Medicare benefits that beneficiaries have been fortunate to receive.

Medicare Supplemental Plans

There are some Medicare supplemental plans that are available in addition to the standard coverage options. These Medicare supplemental plans are known as "Medigap" policies and they seek to bridge the gap in needs for special individuals. These Medicare supplemental plans used to taken out to cover the costs of prescription drugs. These days, they are taken out more to bridge the things that aren't covered in Part A or Part B. This could include long term health care such as a hospital stay that's longer than 200 days. This type of coverage has become less popular since Part D passed in 2006.