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Public Benefits

Medical Assistance Programs

What kind of medical assistance programs are available from the federal government?

There are several federal and state medical assistance programs available. Below you will find an overview of Medicare--the federal health insurance program. For information on Medicaid, see the following FAQ, which describes the way Minnesota administers the Medicaid program for the state.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program administered by the state. Medicare provides assistance with meeting health care costs for:
- Most people age 65 or older
- People under age 65 with certain disabilities
- People at any age with End- Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant)

Medicare Part A provides inpatient hospitalization coverage for qualified applicants. It also helps cover hospice care and home health care. Most people pay no monthly premium for Part A because they paid into FICA when they were working.
- If you are over the age of 65, you are eligible for Medicare Part A if you receive Social Security benefits.
- If you are under age 65, you must be receiving Social Security disability benefits, or have worked long enough in a federal, state, or local government job and meet the requirements of the Social Security disability program (SSDI). The term "worked long enough" refers to the Social Security Administration (SSA) system of assigning work credits based on recency and length of employment.

In general, an SSDI recipient under the age of 65 must have been an SSDI beneficiary for 24 months in order to be eligible for Medicare; SSDI recipients will automatically be enrolled in Medicare two years from the month in which they were entitled to receive benefits.

Medicare Part B helps cover other types of medical and outpatient services such as doctors services, and some preventive services. Part B premiums are based on the enrollee's income.

Almost anyone who is 65 or older or who is under 65 but eligible for hospital insurance can enroll for Medicare medical insurance by paying a monthly premium. Aged people don't need any Social Security or government work credits for this part of Medicare.

Both Part A and Part B have annual deductibles and co-insurance requirements.

Medicare Parts A and B are provided by the Original Medicare Plan. Part C offers combined Part A and Part B coverage, and is provided by HMOs and PPOs.

Medicare Part D is Prescription Drug Coverage, and is offered by both Medicare and the HMOs and PPOs. There may be a premium for Part D coverage in addition to the Part B premium.

Comprehensive information on Medicare programs and requirements is available on the Medicare web site. The Medicare Website has a number of helpful publications available, with easy to follow instructions on how to apply.

Medicare Supplement Policies

Medigap or Medicare supplement policies are private coverage policies that fill gaps in Part A and Part B coverage of the Original Medicare Plan. These policies pay your share (coinsurance, co-payments, or deductibles) of covered services. They may also cover services that are not covered by the Medicare Plan. Minnesota has two standard Medicare supplement policies: basic and extended basic. There are seven optional riders available with the basic policies. Costs vary by policy and company.

The Minnesota Board on Aging offers free counseling about choosing plans, buying a Medigap policy, and your Medicare rights (including appeals). Call 1-800-882-6262 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In addition, the Minnesota Attorney General's office offers guidelines for purchasing a Medigap or Medicare supplement policies. Visit their website and select the Health Link.

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