What are the benefits of standard Medicare coverage?

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The burgeoning costs of medical care in the United States have increased the importance of government healthcare programs. Medicare, a government healthcare program for both those who are 65 years of age and older and those with disabilities, has done a great job providing quality healthcare at an affordable price. Medicare is divided into 4 parts that serve different purposes. The two standard portions of Medicare that most recipients have are Medicare Part A, which deals with hospital stays and expenses, and Medicare Part B, which deals with doctor's visits. These two parts of Medicare possess many benefits to their customers.

Free Premiums - Part A

Perhaps the top benefit of standard Medicare coverage is that there are no premiums for Part A for qualifying individuals that have worked 10 full years or 40 quarters at a job where Medicare taxes were withheld. However, it is important to note that if a person worked between 30-39 quarters they will have to pay a monthly premium of $252. Individuals who worked less than 30 quarters will have to pay a monthly premium of $458.

Low Coinsurance Rates - Part A

Extended hospital stays can be very extensive, potentially bankrupting otherwise financially stable individuals. Part A of Medicare mitigates this expense by allowing hospital patients to pay $0 for coinsurance after meeting their $1,408 deductible for the first 60 days of the 90 day Medicare benefit period. If a patient has to spend more time in the hospital, the last 30 days of the period will require a $352 coinsurance payment per day, a small fraction of the total medical expenses incurred.

Lifetime Reserve Days - Part A

Lifetime Reserve Days are a part of the coinsurance portion of Medicare Part A and provide an individual an additional 60 days of a particular benefit period. During this 60 day grace period, the coinsurance portion of Medicare Part A will continue to cover some of the medical expenses of a hospital stay. The $704 per day coinsurance payment required during this period is still a small fraction of the total medical expenses of an extended hospital stay.

Low Premiums and Deductibles - Part B

While premiums vary for Medicare Part B, the standard coverage for most individuals, those with taxable income of $87,000 or less, or $174,000 or less if they file taxes jointly, is $144.60. The deductible for this same group is only $198, a fraction of the cost that many private health insurance plans currently offer.

High Acceptance Rates

Another significant benefit of Medicare is the number of doctors who accept this insurance, far outpacing most private insurance plans. With over 90% of doctors in the United States accepting Medicare, recipients can almost always see a doctor of their choice. This is in stark contrast to Medicaid, the other major government healthcare program in the United States, where under 70% of doctors currently see patients with this plan.

Broad Coverage

Some individuals may fear that standard Medicare coverage may have to sacrifice some coverage options to be able to provide low rates and premiums. However, Medicare covers virtually every medical condition or illness in existence, all while offering reasonable rates that vary based on income, not health status.