4 Things You Didn’t Know Medicare Covered


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Over 65 million individuals in the U.S. are enrolled in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for adults at least 65 years old and individuals with certain disabilities, end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)[1]. While Medicare is largely known for covering costs related to hospital stays and doctor visits, there are multiple other benefits available to beneficiaries of this comprehensive program.

Understanding all that Medicare covers can help beneficiaries make more informed decisions when it comes to their health care. Read on to learn more about Medicare’s lesser-known covered services and how to gain access to these benefits.

What Is Medicare?

Medicare was initially established in an effort to provide affordable health care for older U.S. adults and has since expanded to include younger individuals with specific disabilities and conditions. Medicare is divided into multiple parts, each covering different services:

  • Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) covers hospital stays, hospice care, home health services and skilled nursing facility care.
  • Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers outpatient medical expenses, including doctor visits, preventative care and durable medical equipment.
  • Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) is an alternative to Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) offered by private health insurance companies. It includes benefits of Parts A and B, plus additional coverage like vision, dental and hearing care benefits, depending on the plan.
  • Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.
  • Medicare Supplement (also known as Medigap) plans help cover costs not covered by Original Medicare for those who don’t want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Original Medicare beneficiaries are responsible for a range of fees, including an annual Part B deductible, a monthly Part B premium and various additional costs related to both Part A and Part B based on the care they receive in a calendar year.. The annual deductible for Part B in 2023 is $226, and the standard monthly premium for Part B in 2023 is $164.90.

4 Surprising Things Medicare Covers

Understanding all that Medicare offers can be confusing, as there are many benefits that many people may not know about, says Jeff Collins, a Medicare expert and vice president of government programs at MVP Health Care, a health insurance provider with locations in New York and Vermont. Here are four surprising benefits provided by Original Medicare specifically.


Telehealth services allow individuals to access medical or health services, such as psychotherapy or speech therapy, via audio or video communications without an in-person visit to a health care provider.

“Telemedicine services are designed to make health care more accessible whenever and wherever people need it,” says Collins.

Many telehealth appointments cost the same as in-person visits with health care professionals. However, specific costs depend on factors like:

  • Other insurance a Medicare beneficiary may have, such as a Medigap policy
  • The type of health care professional providing care
  • How much a particular health care professional charges
  • If the health care professional accepts Medicare as a type of insurance
  • The type of facility in which a beneficiary receives care
  • Where a beneficiary accesses medical services, tests and more

Tobacco Cessation Assistance

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medicare Part B covers up to eight counseling sessions annually to help individuals stop smoking or using tobacco products. If a beneficiary’s health care provider accepts Medicare, the individual receives these counseling sessions at no cost.

Medical Services Outside the U.S.

Although Medicare generally doesn’t cover health care outside of the U.S. (which includes all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Guam; the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa), there are some exceptions, says Collins.

According the the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare Part B may cover care abroad in some circumstances, including:

  • When a beneficiary lives in the U.S. but the foreign hospital is closer to their home than the nearest U.S. hospital (regardless of whether it is an emergency)
  • When a beneficiary is in the U.S. and the foreign hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital that can treat their medical needs in the event of a medical emergency
  • When a beneficiary is traveling through Canada from Alaska directly to another U.S. state and the Canadian hospital is closer than the nearest U.S. hospital in the event of a medical emergency

Chronic Disease Management Services

Medicare may cover some chronic disease management services for individuals who have at least two chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis. This coverage may include the cost of a health care provider to create and manage a comprehensive care plan, which includes information like a diagnosis, medications, necessary care and coordination plans for care services between providers.

How to Enroll in Medicare

To enroll in Medicare, first compare the available plans in your area. Once you have selected a plan that meets your needs and budget, complete an application on the Social Security Administration’s website or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Applications can also be submitted via mail. You can enroll at any time during your initial enrollment period, which begins three months before your 65th birthday and ends three months after your birth month.

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