Medicare is a health insurance program
administered by the federal government for the
elderly. It was created in 1965 as part of the
Social Security Act and is financed by a separate
tax on wages.
Medicare is available to citizens over the age of
64 and those with some disabilities. It
presently covers tens of millions of Americans and has
become a major federal government budget item with
out-of-control growth. Both Part A and Part B
are funded from the U.S. Government's general fund but
Part B also receives some payments that are deducted
from covered retirees social security checks.
There are two parts to Medicare. Part A
covers hospital visits and Part B covers doctor's
visits and related services. Both parts contain
deductibles and requires co-pays from the insured.
Some insurance companies offer private insurance
policies to fill in the gaps omitted by Medicare.
Medicare pays physicians for their services based
upon the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale.
Doctors often complain that Medicare payments do not
reflect the market rate for services and some may not
be willing to discount their services.
Fraudulent services continue to plague the Medicare
system. Some doctors and hospitals have
defrauded the system by claiming payment for services
not performed. It is estimated that fraudulent
claims are costing Medicare (and us taxpayers) tens of
billions of dollars.
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