There are so many different aspects of long-term care planning that it is understandable that many people get confused or fail to engage in long term planning because they do not even know where to start. Medicare is one of the aspects of long term planning of which many people are aware, at least to some extent, although they may not understand how Medicare fits together with other elements of long-term care. Medicare itself is complex and is frequently in the news as developments occur and leadership changes.
The chief of Medicare recently resigned in early January 2015 in a move that was completely unexpected. The resignation is attributed, in part, to turmoil and confusion that resulted after the passage of the new health care law. The health care law continues to confront challenges, even though it has greatly increased the numbers of people now covered by health insurance. The Medicare chief, Marilyn Tavenner, expressed "sadness and mixed emotions" over leaving. Although Tavenner managed to survive the problems that stemmed from the initial technological malfunctions related to the Healthcare.gov website, other subsequent events created some controversy regarding her leadership.
Medicare is an important part of long-term care planning because it a health insurance program provided by the federal government for people aged 65 or older. In general, people's medical costs tend to increase as they age due to normal age-related illnesses and conditions. For this reason, having adequate insurance is critical to ensuring their access to needed medical care. Understanding what kinds of benefits are available through Medicare can help elderly individuals (or those people planning in advance for their needs when elderly) better use their resources to ensure all their needs are met.
It is important for people to understand that Medicare and Medicaid are very different programs. Medicaid is a program run by the state with specific eligibility requirements related to income. Coverage by Medicaid is neither guaranteed nor automatic. Again, understanding benefits and eligibility for Medicaid can help people make smart decisions when engaging in long-term care planning that can result in protecting assets and minimizing expenses.
Source: 9&10News, "Medicare chief steps down, ran health care rollout," Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Jan. 16, 2015