Did You Know This About Medicare?

Saul Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, often writes about Medicare.  I’ve provided excerpts here from a recent piece of his in which he introduces some information that was news to me.   For example, I have questioned why the majority of  provisions in the Affordable Care Act will not take effect until 2014 – but I figured it takes a lot of time to get everything in place.  Mr. Friedman writes that “Medicare was serving 19 million Americans a year after passage”.

Other bits of interesting info from his  recent post:

In 1966, as the nation’s largest purchaser of health care, Medicare desegregated most hospitals as a condition for receiving Medicare reimbursement.

Medicare pays $9.1 billion a year to teaching hospitals which pays residents’ salaries as well as the higher operating costs associated with teaching hospitals which tend to see the sickest, most costly and uninsured patients.

Under current law, persons over 65 who end their employment and employer health coverage must apply for Medicare during a “special enrollment period” up to eight month after that coverage ceases.  But if the workers chooses to get COBRA coverage, which usually lasts 18 months, they may not realize that they will be disqualified from the special enrollment period and will have to wait until the regular open enrollment period, from January through March 31. In that case, their Medicare coverage won’t begin until July 1. This rule is 24 years old but because it’s happening frequently, legislation is pending to permit signing up for Medicare when COBRA runs out.

Under current law, a person (who suffered a stroke or was injured) is entitled to skilled nursing care and rehabilitation after three days in a hospital. But lately some hospitals, to save money, are keeping patients “under observation” and not admitting them, thus depriving them of the rehabilitation they need.

You can read the Saul Friedman’s entire post  in his Gray Matters column.

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