Insurance Advisor Brycen Millett Discusses the Benefits of Medicare Coverage
Medicare is the federal government-sponsored healthcare program that provides coverage to seniors age 65 and over regardless of medical history, health status, or income. Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, Medicare began offering coverage in 1966, with 19 million seniors signing up for the program that first year.
Brycen Millett, Vice President of Premium Choice, discusses why so many American seniors choose Medicare as their health insurance option and enjoy the benefits the program offers. It began as a way to provide seniors who had no health insurance with access to quality, low-cost coverage.
Today, nearly 64 million individuals are enrolled in Medicare. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), Medicare spending grew to $829.5 billion in 2020, or 20% percent of the total national health expenditure.
Coverage Under Original Medicare
Medicare Part A
At the outset, Medicare offered Part A (Hospital insurance) and Part B (Medical insurance), known today as Original Medicare. As Brycen Millett explains, under Part A, inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility (SNF) stays, some home health visits, and hospice care are all covered. Many people don’t pay a premium for Part A coverage, however, the benefits include a deductible and a coinsurance payment for extended inpatient hospital and skilled nursing facility stays.
Medicare Part B
Part B covers doctor’s visits, outpatient services, preventive care, and some home health visits. Many Part B benefits are subject to a deductible as well as a 20% coinsurance payment, in most cases. There is no coinsurance payment or deductible for an annual wellness visit or preventive services rated ‘A’ or ‘B’ by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, such as mammography or prostate cancer screenings.
For 2022, the Part B premium is $170.20 per month, which is automatically deducted from an individual’s benefit payment if he or she receives benefits from Social Security, the Railroad Retirement Board, or the Office of Personnel Management. Otherwise, an individual is billed for Part B coverage.
The Evolution of Medicare
Brycen Millett points out that Medicare over the years evolved in an effort to improve the program and better address the healthcare concerns of seniors, including the ability to offer more tailored, individualized coverage. The program expanded coverage options, allowed more people to enroll in the program, and added protection for Americans who use the program.
People under the age of 65 with long-term disabilities and individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) became eligible for Original Medicare.
Private insurers could offer Medicare Supplement insurance, also known as Medigap plans, to help individuals pay the out-of-pocket costs of Original Medicare, such as copays and deductibles.
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plans from private insurers were also introduced. These plans must provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, and they frequently include additional coverage for services not covered by Original Medicare, such as dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans are also available with Medicare Advantage policies. Brycen Millett explains that private insurers are better able to provide competitively priced expanded benefits, giving seniors more options than Original Medicare offered.
Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage – was also added.
Medicare Program Continues to See Changes
Medicare legislation changes continue. For example, Medicare continues to prioritize telehealth, particularly in light of the pandemic, when seniors and others were unable to have in-person doctor visits. Brycen Millett reveals that among the new features in the Medicare program is the ability to provide certain mental and behavioral health services over the phone. Counseling and therapy services will be more widely available, particularly in areas where broadband access is limited. This year, rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers will also be able to provide mental health telehealth visits.
About Brycen Millett
Brycen Millett supervises the day-to-day operations of family-owned Premium Choice, an innovative online insurance agency that offers seniors a one-stop marketplace for their healthcare services. He ensures that Premium Choice’s network of insurance agents operates in alignment with the company’s core values, helping senior citizens understand their options and feel safe and comfortable as they consider the pros and cons of each policy.