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Starting the Dialogue with your Aging Parents About Medicare Part A

September 30, 2013

Medicare Part A is often referred to as the Medicare Hospital Insurance. Today we’ll focus on Medicare Part A and in the coming weeks I’ll continue the discussion by supplying you information on other parts of Medicare.

Medicare Part A does not have a monthly premium for most people. This was paid for through payroll deductions during the years of employment. For those who do not qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A there are a number of reasons and various rules. I won’t go through those here. You can ask me questions in the comments section and I will try to answer them, but to go through them in this general blog post may confuse some people.

As I was saying, Medicare Part A does not have a monthly premium for most people, but there may be copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles that apply for each of the services. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information you can call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227. There are also individuals who receive their Medicare coverage through Medicare health plans. This may involve HMOs, PPOs, MCOs, or Railroad Retirement plans. It is important that Medicare recipients understand what kind of coverages they have and through what organizations. Again, if you have questions pose them in the comments section and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.

Some people carry additional insurance to cover the copayments and deductibles that Medicare plans do not cover. Yes, this is all a little confusing, but taking the time to understand it leaves out surprises and disappointments. Any time you or your aging parents are hospitalized or are preparing for hospitalization you should find out exactly what is covered and what you will be responsible for and how to handle such bills.

 Below I have listed the basic things covered under Medicare Part A. This is not an all-encompassing list. For further information I will refer you once again to the handbook Medicare and You or the phone number above to contact Medicare directly.

Blood Products: There are varying things to consider here and some charges may be more than others depending on how the blood products are obtained and from where.

Home Health Services: There are very strict requirements surrounding the home health care benefit. Be sure you, your parents, and the ordering doctor understand them fully before engaging in services. You can get answers from any home health agency about what is covered and what the requirements are. You can receive nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs and IADLs) under this benefit at no charge.

Hospice Care: This is another service that has qualifying conditions in order to receive full payment from Medicare. Be sure the qualifying conditions are explained to you and your aging parents fully before signing forms and initiating services. Also, be sure that there is complete understanding of what to do related to illnesses or health problems requiring treatment that are not associated with the terminal diagnosis.

Inpatient Hospital Care:  There are qualifying conditions and timeframes applied to this benefit. There are many conditions associated with this benefit. The handbook Medicare and You outlines most of them, but it can be confusing.  This is an area where charges can accumulate quickly so being informed of what is covered and what is not is very important. Pose questions in the comments section or call the Medicare number listed above.

Skilled Nursing Facility Care: This is another benefit that is complicated and has qualifying conditions. If your parents doctor recommends a stay in a skilled facility be sure you understand the benefits and timeframes. This benefit does not cover long-term or custodial care.

Medicare Part A is very important care for the aging adults in our country, but it is important to have a basic understanding of what is covered and where to get answers when questions arise. Please make a discussion surrounding this topic part of the dialogue you should be having with your aging parents.

As always, I will be happy to answer any questions in the comments section or provide advice on where you can find answer. Thank you for reading this blog and sharing it with any you know who might find the information useful.

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