Understanding Medicare: The Basics


The phone rang. It was the hospital calling to tell you that your dad was going to be transferred to Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey. So many questions swirled around in your mind as you were holding the phone. By the time you were able to formulate your thoughts into questions the call was over. You wished you were better prepared to deal with this situation. You wish you knew more about how Medicare worked but you never quite got around to it. With so many questions on your mind all you can do is say, “Okay” repeatedly to the person on the other end of the line.

It is not difficult to understand Medicare, although it can seem confusing because of its complex guidelines. With a little time and effort it is possible to learn the basic concepts of Medicare with ease. Unfortunately most people do not take time to learn about this coverage until a medical crisis is upon them. It is a proven fact that learning in a stressful situation is virtually impossible. Learning the facts about Medicare coverage before a medical crisis occurs will increase your level of understanding and your ability to apply that knowledge when a medical emergency presents itself.

Medicare was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. At that time it was impossible for people over the age of 65 to secure private health insurance. Medicare is now a universal right for older Americans. It is an insurance policy covering hospital stays including Long Term Acute Care Hospitals (LTACH) and sub-acute or skilled nursing care. There are a variety of other covered services listed at http://www.medicare.gov/. Medicare also provides coverage for people with End-Stage Renal Disease and for certain younger people with disabilities.

Medicare covers regular hospitalizations as well as time spent in Long Term Acute Care Hospitals.

Once a medical crisis is under control and a patient’s condition is stabilized, thoughts turn to finances. The first question most people ask is, “Who is going to pay for all of this?” While Medicare was not designed to be a long term payment solution, it does provide coverage to a segment of the population that fell through the gap years ago. It provides short-term health insurance for qualified individuals when acute illness occurs.

Long Term Acute Care Hospitals were created to serve a once underserved segment of the patient population. This option allows patients that meet the criteria an extended period of time to recover to their highest functional level. LTACH’s provide comparable levels of care to traditional hospitals. At Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey we deliver care with a team approach with a goal of achieving the patients’ optimum level of health over a longer course of time. Please contact us at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey by calling 732.942.3592. We are conveniently located at 600 River Avenue in Lakewood, New Jersey.

For more information about Medicare, visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website at www.cms.gov.

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