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Medicare provides health coverage to 60 million beneficiaries ages 65 and over and younger people with permanent disabilities.  Medicare will cover an increasingly large number of people as the population ages, and the program remains an important topic in Washington and around the country as political leaders and other policy makers weigh potential changes to the program.

Take this quiz to find out how much you know about Medicare, the people it serves, the benefits it covers, and its financial status.

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1

About how many Americans are covered by Medicare?

In 2018, Medicare provides health insurance coverage to 60 million older people and younger people with disabilities, which is roughly 1 in 5 of the 330 million people in the United States, or 20 percent of the population.

2

At what age do people typically become eligible for Medicare?

Most people become eligible for Medicare when they reach age 65 and they or their spouse have made payroll contributions to Social Security for at least 10 or more years.

3

Which groups of people are covered by Medicare?

Medicare provides health insurance coverage to people 65 and older and to younger adults with permanent disabilities who have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for at least two years, and also to people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

4

Which of the following services is not typically covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover some services that could be important for older people and people with disabilities, including long-term services and supports, dental services, eyeglasses, or hearing aids.

5

What share of Medicare beneficiaries lived on incomes of less than $26,200 in 2016, including income from Social Security and all other sources?

In 2016, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $26,200 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.

6

What share of all primary care physicians (excluding pediatricians) report that they are accepting Medicare patients in their practice?

According to a large, national survey of non-pediatric primary care physicians, most doctors (93%) report that they accept Medicare patients into their practice.

7

What share of the total Medicare population is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, such as a Medicare HMO or PPO, instead of the traditional Medicare program?

One third (34%) of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2018.

8

Most large employer health plans protect enrollees from extraordinarily high medical bills by placing an annual limit on out-of-pocket costs. Does the traditional Medicare program do this?

The traditional Medicare program does not include an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for inpatient hospital, physician visits, and other medical services covered under Medicare Parts A and B.

9

Approximately what share of the federal budget goes toward Medicare?

In 2017, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of total federal spending.

10

A prescription drug benefit, Part D, was added to Medicare in 2006. Does Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to determine the drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part D plans?

Medicare does not negotiate drug prices for Part D enrollees. In fact, under current law, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating drug prices with drug manufacturers. Instead, private Part D plans negotiate on behalf of their enrollees.

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Medicare Quiz

You Answered out of 10 Questions Correctly.

Question

Correct Response

1

About how many Americans are covered by Medicare?

In 2018, Medicare provides health insurance coverage to 60 million older people and younger people with disabilities, which is roughly 1 in 5 of the 330 million people in the United States, or 20 percent of the population.

Medicare plays a key role in providing health and financial security to 60 million older people and younger people with disabilities in 2018.
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2

At what age do people typically become eligible for Medicare?

Most people become eligible for Medicare when they reach age 65 and they or their spouse have made payroll contributions to Social Security for at least 10 or more years.

Most people age 65 and over are entitled to Medicare Part A if they or their spouse are eligible for Social Security payments and have paid payroll taxes for 10 or more years.
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3

Which groups of people are covered by Medicare?

Medicare provides health insurance coverage to people 65 and older and to younger adults with permanent disabilities who have received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for at least two years, and also to people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Medicare is the federal health insurance program created in 1965 for people age 65 and over. Since 1973, Medicare has covered people under age 65 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. People under age 65 qualify for Medicare after they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments for 24 months. Medicare also covers certain widows and widowers under age 65 with disabilities, as well as disabled adult children of retired, deceased, or disabled workers. Younger adults with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are eligible for Medicare as soon as they begin receiving SSDI benefits. In 2017, Medicare covered 8.8 million people with disabilities who are under age 65, or 15% of the Medicare population.

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4

Which of the following services is not typically covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover some services that could be important for older people and people with disabilities, including long-term services and supports, dental services, eyeglasses, or hearing aids.

Medicare does not cover some services that are important for older people and people with disabilities, including long-term services and supports, dental services, eyeglasses, and hearing aids. The program provides coverage for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility following an inpatient hospital stay. It also provides home health services in some circumstances.
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5

What share of Medicare beneficiaries lived on incomes of less than $26,200 in 2016, including income from Social Security and all other sources?

In 2016, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $26,200 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.

In 2016, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $26,200 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources. Furthermore, most beneficiaries had modest savings. Half of all Medicare beneficiaries had savings of less than $74,450, including both retirement accounts and financial assets.
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6

What share of all primary care physicians (excluding pediatricians) report that they are accepting Medicare patients in their practice?

According to a large, national survey of non-pediatric primary care physicians, most doctors (93%) report that they accept Medicare patients into their practice.

According to a large, national survey of non-pediatric primary care physicians, most doctors (93%) report that they accept Medicare patients into their practice—the same rate that accepts patients with private, non-capitated insurance, such as plans with preferred provider organizations.
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7

What share of the total Medicare population is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, such as a Medicare HMO or PPO, instead of the traditional Medicare program?

One third (34%) of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2018.

Medicare beneficiaries have the option to receive their Medicare benefits through private health plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans, as an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program. Medicare Advantage plans include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and other plan types. In 2018, 20.4 million of the 60 million people on Medicare (34%) are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
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8

Most large employer health plans protect enrollees from extraordinarily high medical bills by placing an annual limit on out-of-pocket costs. Does the traditional Medicare program do this?

The traditional Medicare program does not include an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for inpatient hospital, physician visits, and other medical services covered under Medicare Parts A and B.

The traditional Medicare program does not include an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for inpatient hospital, physician visits, and other medical services covered under Medicare Parts A and B. Beneficiaries enrolled in Part D prescription drug plans have coverage for most of their drug costs above a catastrophic threshold ($5,000 in 2018), but are responsible for paying 5 percent of their total drug spending exceeding this threshold. While the traditional portion of the Medicare program does not include an out-of-pocket limit, Medicare Advantage plans do. Medicare Advantage plans – private plans that contract with Medicare to provide Medicare benefits, currently covering almost one-third of beneficiaries – are required to include a limit on out-of-pocket spending for Medicare-covered services. In 2018, all Medicare Advantage plans must have an out-of-pocket limit of no more than $6,700.
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9

Approximately what share of the federal budget goes toward Medicare?

In 2017, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of total federal spending.

In 2017, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of total federal spending. Social Security accounted for 23 percent of the federal budget and defense spending accounted for 15 percent, while federal spending on Medicaid, the ACA, and CHIP accounted for 11 percent of the budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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10

A prescription drug benefit, Part D, was added to Medicare in 2006. Does Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to determine the drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part D plans?

Medicare does not negotiate drug prices for Part D enrollees. In fact, under current law, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating drug prices with drug manufacturers. Instead, private Part D plans negotiate on behalf of their enrollees.

Under Medicare Part D, beneficiaries enroll in private plans to receive the Part D drug benefit. Part D plan sponsors directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers for beneficiaries enrolled in Part D plans. The law explicitly prohibits the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from negotiating or setting drug prices in Medicare Part D. This is known as the “noninterference” clause.
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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.