The nature of what Medicare really is continues to be misunderstood. The true answer to the question, “Is Medicare health insurance?” is yes, it is.
Medicare is the health insurance program offered by the United States federal government available to people over the age of 65 or under age 65 with certain eligible disabilities. Medicare encourages aging seniors to seek preventative and necessary medical attention and assists with the costs of health care but is not intended to cover every expense incurred.
Since the Social Security Administration keeps the country’s records on who’s legally who through social security numbers and coordinates that with income taxes paid when working, it handles the eligibility and confirmation of issuing Medicare benefits.
For example, a person getting Social Security retirement benefits will automatically be allowed to get Medicare benefits when they turn 65 because they have already been verified through the Social Security office.
Medicare coverage is broken down into four parts identified simply as Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Part A involves hospital stays and sometimes rehabilitation following hospital discharge. Regular medical coverage like doctor’s visits for check-ups or sickness are issued through Part B as well as certain equipment needs, like wheelchairs. These perform much like other health plans with monthly premiums and co-pay per visit. Part C is also referred to as Advantage Plans which are contracts with private insurance companies and include PPO networks and the like. Part D is the prescription drug plan which, again, works very much like any other insurance where you pay a small co-payment at the pharmacy.
When people express confusion and ask is Medicare health insurance it’s important to understand that just like most other health insurance plans it does not provide 100% coverage to completely pay for everything, especially notable is the lack of complete coverage for the majority of long-term care like assisted living residences or nursing homes.