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Medicare provides health coverage to approximately 57 million beneficiaries ages 65 and over and younger people with permanent disabilities.  Medicare will cover an increasingly large number of people as the baby boom population reaches age 65, 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 2016, Medicare provides health insurance coverage to 57 million older people and younger people with disabilities, which is roughly 1 in 5 of the 325 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 people on Medicare lived on incomes less than $24,150 in 2014, including income from Social Security and all other sources?

In 2014, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $24,150 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.

6

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

According to a large, national survey of physicians, most non-pediatric doctors (91%) report that they accept new 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?

About one third (31%) of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2016.

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 2015, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of total federal spending.

10

When Medicare was established in 1965, it did not cover prescription drugs. In what year was a prescription drug benefit added to Medicare?

The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which provides outpatient prescription drug coverage to people with Medicare through private drug plans, was created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. The Part D benefit was launched in 2006.

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Medicare Quiz

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Question

Correct Response

1

About how many Americans are covered by Medicare?

In 2016, Medicare provides health insurance coverage to 57 million older people and younger people with disabilities, which is roughly 1 in 5 of the 325 million people in the United States, or 20 percent of the population.

Medicare plays a key role in providing health and financial security to 57 million older people and younger people with disabilities in 2016.
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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 2016, Medicare covered 9.1 million people with disabilities who are under age 65, or 16% 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 people on Medicare lived on incomes less than $24,150 in 2014, including income from Social Security and all other sources?

In 2014, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $24,150 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.

In 2014, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $24,150 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 $63,350, including both retirement accounts and financial assets.
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6

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

According to a large, national survey of physicians, most non-pediatric doctors (91%) report that they accept new Medicare patients into their practice.

According to a large, national survey of physicians, most non-pediatric doctors (91%) report that they accept new Medicare patients into their practice—the same rate that accepts new patients with private, non-capitated insurance, such as plans with preferred provider organizations. In every state, the majority of physicians report accepting new Medicare patients, but there is some variation among states. Surveys of Medicare seniors find that only about 2 percent report problems finding a new physician when they need one.
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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?

About one third (31%) of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2016.

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 2016, 17.6 million of the 57 million people on Medicare (31%) 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 ($4.950 in 2017), 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 2016, 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 2015, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of total federal spending.

In 2015, Medicare accounted for 15 percent of total federal spending. Social Security accounted for 24 percent of the federal budget and defense spending accounted for 16 percent, while federal spending on Medicaid accounted for 9 percent of the budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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10

When Medicare was established in 1965, it did not cover prescription drugs. In what year was a prescription drug benefit added to Medicare?

The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which provides outpatient prescription drug coverage to people with Medicare through private drug plans, was created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. The Part D benefit was launched in 2006.

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) established a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit for people on Medicare known as Part D, which went into effect in 2006. All 57 million people on Medicare, including those age 65 and older and those under age 65 with permanent disabilities, have access to the Medicare drug benefit through private plans approved by the federal government. Beneficiaries can enroll in a stand-alone prescription drug plan that supplements traditional Medicare or in a private Medicare Advantage plan (such as an HMO or PPO) that covers prescription drugs along with other Medicare-covered Part A and Part B services.
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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.