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Alex Enabnit

You may have heard, but “Medicare for All” is the subject of some pretty hot debate right now. While there’s plenty to talk about along those lines, we’d rather start on the ground floor of this whole subject. Specifically, how much do people know about our existing Medicare system?

To answer that, we asked a few people some questions about Medicare. Actually, we asked 500 people.

Here are the results, along with some clarifying details.

Survey says…

50% of respondents believe that Medicare is free.

It’s not.

Part A, which covers hospitals and a few hospital-like services, could be “premium-free” based on how long you worked and paid Medicare taxes. But technically, you still paid for it.

Part B, which covers doctors and specialists, isn’t free either. In 2020, monthly premiums start at $144.60 and can reach as high as $460.50, depending on your income.1

Part D (prescription drug coverage) is an optional add-on and, you guessed it, it’s not free either. Sold by private insurance companies, Part D can be added to your Medicare coverage for (on average) $39.63 per month.2

I could keep going, but you get the picture.

26% of respondents believe that Medicare is a part of Obamacare.

Medicare existed long before the Affordable Care Act was a twinkle in President Obama’s eye.

If you want to get specific, Medicare was enacted on July 30, 1965—five days before little Barack’s fourth birthday.

The 44th president did expand the Medicaid program as part of Obamacare, however, and made cost-controlling changes to Medicare.

90% of respondents know that there is a difference between Medicare and Medicaid.

That’s correct!

Medicare is the federal healthcare program. Medicaid is a joint program between states and the federal government that helps people with disabilities or a low income level access health care.

41% of respondents older than 54 believe that they will be automatically enrolled in Medicare when they’re eligible.

These people might be in for a rude awakening. Except in a few circumstances (you’re already receiving Social Security benefits before 65, you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, or you’ve been on disability benefits for 24 months), you must enroll in Medicare through the Social Security Administration.

To raise the stakes of enrollment, if you don’t sign up for Part A, Part B, and Part D at the right time, you may have to pay late enrollment penalties—for the rest of your life. Hopefully that got your attention, because it’s serious. To learn how (and when) to sign up, see our guide.

58% of respondents knew that Lyndon B. Johnson was the president who created Medicare.

Medicare was created under LBJ in ‘65, but all these other presidents have made changes to the program over the years.

Meanwhile 21% thought it was Barack Obama, 20% answered Bill Clinton, and two respondents said it was Donald Trump.

Final thoughts

There it is: Now you know everything about Medicare! Just kidding. But you may know a little more than you did.

Are you surprised at some of the answers? Or are you an expert yourself who could school all of us with your Medicare knowledge? If so, you must be really fun at parties….

Let us know in the comments.

Sources:

1. Medicare, “Part B Costs
2.  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Trump Administration Drives Down Medicare Advantage and Part D Premiums for Seniors

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