Medicare History and Resources

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Sample Medicare Card
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Sample Medicare Card

Medicare History and Resources

Signing Medicare and Medicaid into effect July 30th, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson set into motion a whirlwind of health benefits for the American public. Understanding all the eventual rules, regulations and requirements of these huge benefit systems proved so perplexing that experts had to be spawned to translate it all to the layman end user.

By and large, needs were met, issues resolved and questions answered, and understanding Medicare and Medicaid became relatively manageable.

In December of 2003, President Bush signed into effect the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient drug prescription benefits to the Medicare system. This new benefit compounded public confusion and may have even given some ‘experts’ headaches.

For the average guy and gal, understanding Medicare and Medicaid is usually something faced only when life demands it. A change in your health, or that of your spouse’s health, may force a closer look at the maze of programs, benefits and regulations. A visit to your local Social Security office will bring you face to face with agents prepared for questions and willing to assist. However, to get the most out of such a visit, it’s advisable to spend some effort on self-education before you go.

There are government publications on Medicare in the reference section of any library, but finding the particular information you are seeking may be a daunting task. A simpler alternative is the incredibly informative Medicare website: http://www.medicare.gov

An easy to navigate site, Medicare.gov displays large headings for the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Medicare & You 2007, and new updates to the Medicare system. Information is quickly available on locating physicians or pharmacies in your zip code area, making comparisons on prescription plans and using their Formulary Finder to create a medication listing to determine which prescription plan is best for you.

Medicare.gov also provides an immediate access to prescription drug plan enrollment, which is available as an open enrollment through December 31st, 2006.

Other excellent internet sources for Medicare information are:

  • http://www.cms.hhs.gov – the official website of the Department of Health & Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This comprehensive site provides easy to access materials, many presented in printable format manuals that give the visitor pertinent information in layman’s terms.
  • http://www.medicare.org – presented by the non-profit Senior Resource for Medicare Information organization, this site provides volumes of Medicare information easily read and understood by anyone needing basic, or detailed, knowledge. The site also offers sizing of fonts and page width for easier viewing.
  • http://www.aarp.com – the official AARP website, offers comprehensive Medicare articles and information under their “Health” heading on the Home page. You can gain well-rounded, accurate knowledge presented in a reader-friendly style, supplemented with related links.

The three valuable website resources listed above all direct visitors to the Medicare.gov site for the most detailed and up-to-date information. Reading a few articles and familiarizing yourself with terminologies should arm you sufficiently to browse the Medicare.gov website effectively.

Medicare information is abundantly available, and taking time to review it, as it relates to your circumstances, is a valuable action in safeguarding your health. So, fix your favorite beverage, settle into your favorite ‘net “surfing” chair with paper and pen, and visit these repositories of Medicare knowledge. You may be surprised how simply your answers are revealed.

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