Questions and Answers

1What is Medicare?
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).
2Is there a penalty if I do not sign up on time?
An amount will be added to your monthly premium for Part B or a Medicare drug plan (Part D) if you don’t join when you’re first eligible. You pay this higher amount as long as you have Medicare. There are some exceptions.
3What are Medicare plans and how do Medicare health plans work?
A Medicare plan refers to any way other than Original Medicare that you can get your Medicare health or prescription drug coverage. This term includes all Medicare health plans and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. Medicare Health plans are offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits to people with Medicare who enroll in the plan. Medicare health plans include all Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Cost Plans, Demonstration/Pilot Programs and Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
4How is Medicaid different from Medicare?
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services. If you qualify for Medicaid in your state, you automatically qualify for extra help paying your Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D).
5Is it important for my current prescription drug coverage to be creditable?
Prescription drug coverage (for example, from an employer or union) that’s expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare’s standard prescription drug coverage is considered creditable. People who have this kind of coverage when they become eligible for Medicare can generally keep that coverage without paying a penalty if they decide to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage later.
6What is the Coverage gap or “donut hole” (Medicare prescription drug coverage)
A period of time in which you pay higher cost sharing for prescription drugs until you spend enough to qualify for catastrophic coverage. The coverage gap (also called the “donut hole”) starts when you and your plan have paid a set dollar amount for prescription drugs during that year.
7What is an Assignment?
An agreement by your doctor, provider, or supplier to be paid directly by Medicare, to accept the payment amount Medicare approves for the service, and not to bill you for any more than the Medicare deductible and coinsurance.
8Are doctors permitted to charge more than the Medicare approved-amount?
If you have Original Medicare, and the amount a doctor or other health care provider is legally permitted to charge is higher than the Medicare-approved amount, the difference is called the “excess charge”.
9What is custodial care?
Non-skilled personal care, like help with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, getting in or out of a bed or chair, moving around, and using the bathroom. It may also include the kind of health-related care that most people do themselves, like using eye drops. In most cases, Medicare doesn’t pay for custodial care.