Life in the USA
Retirement and Aging
How Medicare Works
Medicare is the primary federal health care program for people over age 65 or people under 65 with certain disabilities. It runs according to a set of complicated financial calculations, but, in essence, Medicare will pay most health-care costs in the case of catastrophic illness. Medicare is funded primarily from mandatory payroll and self-employment taxes in a manner similar to Social Security. Unlike Social Security, for which a person needs to apply at the appropriate age, Medicare coverage is automatic. Just like Social Security, funding and other financial problems plague the system, often making Medicare a “hot” political issue.
Medicare terminology as popularly used refers to certain “parts” of the program:
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, administers the Medicare program. This organization has a web site and many publications that explain the workings of the system, but probably the best place to find reliable information will be your local senior center or public library.
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