MEDICARE GLOSSARY

A

A process where external organizations (or "accrediting bodies") evaluate health care facilities' policies, procedures, and performance to make sure they are meeting predetermined criteria.

In Original Medicare, a notice that a doctor, supplier, or provider gives a person with Medicare before furnishing an item or service if the doctor, supplier, or provider believes that Medicare may deny payment. In this situation, if you aren't given an ABN before you get the item or service, and Medicare denies payment, then you may not have to pay for it. If you are given an ABN, and you sign it, you'll probably have to pay for the item or service if Medicare denies payment.

A notice you get from a Medicare Advantage Plan letting you know in advance whether it will cover a particular service.

A written document stating how you want medical decisions to be made if you lose the ability to make them for yourself. It may include a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

A facility where certain surgeries may be performed for patients who aren’t expected to need more than 24 hours of care.

Chest pain.

A medical procedure used to open a blocked artery.

An appeal is the action you can take if you disagree with a coverage or payment decision made by Medicare, your Medicare health plan, or your Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. You can appeal if Medicare or your plan denies one of these:

  • Your request for a health care service, supply, item, or prescription drug that you think you should be able to get
  • Your request for payment for a health care service, supply, item, or prescription drug you already got
  • Your request to change the amount you must pay for a health care service, supply, item or prescription drug.

You can also appeal if Medicare or your plan stops providing or paying for all or part of a service, supply, item, or prescription drug you think you still need.

An agreement by your doctor, provider, or supplier to be paid directly by Medicare, to accept the payment amount Medicare approves for the service, and not to bill you for any more than the Medicare deductible and coinsurance.

B

A person who has health care insurance through the Medicare or Medicaid programs.

Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization (BFCC-QIO)

A type of QIO (an organization of doctors and other health care experts under contract with Medicare) that uses doctors and other health care experts to review complaints and quality of care for people with Medicare. The BFCC-QIO makes sure there is consistency in the case review process while taking into consideration local factors and local needs, including general quality of care and medical necessity.

The way that Original Medicare measures your use of hospital and skilled nursing facility (SNF) services. A benefit period begins the day you're admitted as an inpatient in a hospital or SNF. The benefit period ends when you haven't gotten any inpatient hospital care (or skilled care in a SNF) for 60 days in a row. If you go into a hospital or a SNF after one benefit period has ended, a new benefit period begins. You must pay the inpatient hospital deductible for each benefit period. There's no limit to the number of benefit periods.

The health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan. Covered benefits and excluded services are defined in the health insurance plan's coverage documents.

The company that acts on behalf of Medicare to collect and manage information on other types of insurance or coverage that a person with Medicare may have, and determine whether the coverage pays before or after Medicare. This company also acts on behalf of Medicare to obtain repayment when Medicare makes a conditional payment, and the other payer is determined to be primary.

C

For Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, when Medicare covers almost all of your costs after you've spent the out of pocket level in a calendar year.

The federal agency that runs the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Programs, and the federally facilitated Marketplace.

See "Medicare-certified provider."

A health care benefit for dependents of qualifying veterans.

Insurance program jointly funded by state and federal government that provides health coverage to low-income children and, in some states, pregnant women in families who earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to purchase private health insurance coverage.

A request for payment that you submit to Medicare or other health insurance when you get items and services that you think are covered.

An exam by your doctor or other health care provider to check for breast cancer by feeling and looking at your breasts. This exam isn't the same as a mammogram and is usually done in the doctor's office during your Pap test and pelvic exam.

An amount you may be required to pay as your share of the cost for services after you pay any deductibles. Coinsurance is usually a percentage (for example, 20%).

A facility that provides a variety of services on an outpatient basis, including physicians' services, physical therapy, social or psychological services, and rehabilitation.

A way to figure out who pays first when 2 or more health insurance plans are responsible for paying the same medical claim.

An amount you may be required to pay as your share of the cost for a medical service or supply, like a doctor's visit, hospital outpatient visit, or prescription drug. A copayment is usually a set amount, rather than a percentage. For example, you might pay $10 or $20 for a doctor's visit or prescription drug.

A device used to keep an artery open.

An amount you may be required to pay as your share of the cost for a medical service or supply, like a doctor's visit, hospital outpatient visit, or prescription drug. This amount can include copayments, coinsurance, and/or deductibles.

The first decision made by your Medicare drug plan (not the pharmacy) about your drug benefits, including:

  • Whether a particular drug is covered
  • Whether you have met all the requirements for getting a requested drug
  • How much you’re required to pay for a drug
  • Whether to make an exception to a plan rule when you request it

The drug plan must give you a prompt decision (72 hours for standard requests, 24 hours for expedited requests). If you disagree with the plan’s coverage determination, the next step is an appeal.

A period of time in which you pay higher cost sharing for prescription drugs until you spend enough to qualify for catastrophic coverage. The coverage gap (also called the “donut hole”) starts when you and your plan have paid a set dollar amount for prescription drugs during that year.

See "creditable coverage (Medigap)" or "creditable prescription drug coverage."

Previous health insurance coverage that can be used to shorten a pre-existing condition waiting period under a Medigap policy.

Prescription drug coverage (for example, from an employer or union) that's expected to pay, on average, at least as much as Medicare's standard prescription drug coverage. People who have this kind of coverage when they become eligible for Medicare can generally keep that coverage without paying a penalty, if they decide to enroll in Medicare prescription drug coverage later.

A small facility that provides outpatient services, as well as inpatient services on a limited basis, to people in rural areas.

Non-skilled personal care, like help with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, eating, getting in or out of a bed or chair, moving around, and using the bathroom. It may also include the kind of health-related care that most people do themselves, like using eye drops. In most cases, Medicare doesn't pay for custodial care.

D

The amount you must pay for health care or prescriptions before Original Medicare, your prescription drug plan, or your other insurance begins to pay.

A provider or supplier earns this when they have been accredited by a national accreditation program (approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) that they demonstrate compliance with certain conditions.

Special projects, sometimes called "pilot programs" or "research studies," that test improvements in Medicare coverage, payment, and quality of care. They usually operate only for a limited time, for a specific group of people, and in specific areas.

Benefits that help pay for the cost of visits to a dentist for basic or preventive services, like teeth cleaning, X-rays, and fillings.

The federal agency that oversees CMS, which administers programs for protecting the health of all Americans, including Medicare, the Marketplace, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

An X-ray exam of the breast in a woman who either has a breast problem or has had a change show up on a screening mammogram.

A drug given to pregnant women from the early 1940s until 1971 to help with common problems during pregnancy. The drug has been linked to cancer of the cervix or vagina in women whose mother took the drug while pregnant.

The process of ending your membership in a Medicare plan. Disenrollment can be voluntary (your own choice) or involuntary (not your own choice).

A private company that contracts with Medicare to pay bills for durable medical equipment.

A list of prescription drugs covered by a prescription drug plan or another insurance plan offering prescription drug benefits. This list is also called a formulary.

Certain medical equipment, like a walker, wheelchair, or hospital bed, that's ordered by your doctor for use in the home.

A legal document that names someone else to make health care decisions for you. This is helpful if you become unable to make your own decisions.

E

Plans that give health and/or drug coverage to employees, former employees, and their families. These plans are offered to people through their (or a spouse's) current or former employer or employee organization.

Permanent kidney failure that requires a regular course of dialysis or a kidney transplant.

The Evidence of Coverage is a document that explains your covered services, defines the plan's obligations and explains your rights and responsibilities as a plan member.

A type of Medicare prescription drug coverage determination. A formulary exception is a drug plan's decision to cover a drug that's not on its drug list or to waive a coverage rule. A tiering exception is a drug plan's decision to charge a lower amount for a drug that's on its non-preferred drug tier. You or your prescriber must request an exception, and your doctor or other prescriber must provide a supporting statement explaining the medical reason for the exception.

If you have Original Medicare, and the amount a doctor or other health care provider is legally permitted to charge is higher than the Medicare-approved amount, the difference is called the excess charge.

A Medicare program to help people with limited income and resources pay Medicare prescription drug program costs, like premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.

F

Federally funded nonprofit health centers or clinics that serve medically underserved areas and populations. Federally qualified health centers provide primary care services even if you can't afford it. Services are provided on a sliding scale fee based on your ability to pay.

A list of prescription drugs covered by a prescription drug plan or another insurance plan offering prescription drug benefits. Also called a drug list.

G

A prescription drug that has the same active-ingredient formula as a brand-name drug. Generic drugs usually cost less than brand-name drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rates these drugs to be as safe and effective as brand-name drugs.

A complaint about the way your Medicare health plan or Medicare drug plan is giving care. For example, you may file a grievance if you have a problem calling the plan or if you're unhappy with the way a staff person at the plan has behaved towards you. However, if you have a complaint about a plan's refusal to cover a service, supply, or prescription, you file an appeal.

In general, a health plan offered by an employer or employee organization that provides health coverage to employees and their families.

Rights you have in certain situations when insurance companies are required by law to sell or offer you a Medigap policy. In these situations, an insurance company can't deny you a Medigap policy, or place conditions on a Medigap policy, like exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and can't charge you more for a Medigap policy because of a past or present health problem.

An insurance policy that can't be terminated by the insurance company unless you make untrue statements to the insurance company, commit fraud, or don't pay your premiums. All Medigap policies issued since 1992 are guaranteed renewable.

H

A person or organization that's licensed to give health care. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals are examples of health care providers.

Legal entitlement to payment or reimbursement for your health care costs, generally under a contract with a health insurance company, a group health plan offered in connection with employment, or a government program like Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

A service that helps people shop for and enroll in affordable health insurance. The federal government operates the Marketplace, available at HealthCare.gov, for most states. Some states run their own Marketplaces.

The Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the “Marketplace” or “exchange”) provides health plan shopping and enrollment services through websites, call centers, and in-person help.

The "Standard for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (also called the "Privacy Rule")" of HIPPA assures your health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public's health and well being.

A type of managed care organization that provides a form of health insurance coverage that is fulfilled through hospitals, doctors, and other providers with which the HMO has a contract.

A type of Medigap policy that has a high deductible but a lower premium. You must pay the deductible before the Medigap policy pays anything. The deductible amount can change each year.

To be homebound means:

  • You have trouble leaving your home without help (like using a cane, wheelchair, walker, or crutches; special transportation; or help from another person) because of an illness or injury, or
  • Leaving your home isn't recommended because of your condition, and you're normally unable to leave your home because it's a major effort

You may leave home for medical treatment or short, infrequent absences for non-medical reasons, like attending religious services. You can still get home health care if you attend adult day care.

An organization that provides home health care.

Health care services and supplies a doctor decides you may get in your home under a plan of care established by your doctor. Medicare only covers home health care on a limited basis as ordered by your doctor.

A special way of caring for people who are terminally ill. Hospice care involves a team-oriented approach that addresses the medical, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of the patient. Hospice also provides support to the patient's family or caregiver.

A part of a hospital where you get outpatient services, like an emergency department, observation unit, surgery center, or pain clinic.

I

An organization (sometimes called an Independent Review Entity or IRE) that has no connection to your Medicare health plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Medicare contracts with the IRE to review your case if you appeal your plan's payment or coverage decision or if your plan doesn't make a timely appeals decision.

The first level of coverage in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. In this level you typically pay only a portion of the cost (might be a copay or coinsurance) to fill your prescriptions until you reach a next certain level where the Coverage Gap begins. With some plans there may be a deductible before the Initial Coverage begins.

Once you've met your yearly deductible, you'll pay a copayment or coinsurance for each covered drug until you reach your plan's out-of-pocket maximum (or initial coverage limit). You'll then enter your plan's coverage gap (also called the "donut hole").

Doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers that have agreed to provide members of a certain insurance plan with services and supplies at a discounted price. In some insurance plans, your care is only covered if you get it from in-network doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers.

Health care that you get when you're admitted to a health care facility, like a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Treatment you get in an acute care hospital, critical access hospital, inpatient rehabilitation facility, long-term care hospital, inpatient care as part of a qualifying research study, and mental health care.

Services you get when you're admitted to a hospital, including bed and board, nursing services, diagnostic or therapeutic services, and medical or surgical services.

Hospitals that have contracted with Medicare to provide acute inpatient care and accept a predetermined rate as payment in full.

A hospital, or part of a hospital, that provides an intensive rehabilitation program to inpatients.

J

There are no words in our glossary that begin with this letter.

 

K

There are no words in our glossary that begin with this letter.

 

L

In general, a group health plan that covers employees of either an employer or employee organization that has at least 100 employees.

The extra amount you will pay in premiums if you do not sign up for Medicare drug coverage when you first become eligible, unless you already have "creditable" coverage.

In Original Medicare, these are additional days that Medicare will pay for when you're in a hospital for more than 90 days. You have a total of 60 reserve days that can be used during your lifetime. For each lifetime reserve day, Medicare pays all covered costs except for a daily coinsurance.

In Original Medicare, the highest amount of money you can be charged for a covered service by doctors and other health care suppliers who don't accept assignment. The limiting charge is 15% over Medicare's approved amount. The limiting charge only applies to certain services and doesn't apply to supplies or equipment.

A written legal document, also called a "medical directive" or "advance directive." It shows what type of treatments you want or don’t want in case you can’t speak for yourself, like whether you want life support. Usually, this document only comes into effect if you’re unconscious.

Services that include medical and non-medical care provided to people who are unable to perform basic activities of daily living, like dressing or bathing. Long-term supports and services can be provided at home, in the community, in assisted living, or in nursing homes. Individuals may need long-term supports and services at any age. Medicare and most health insurance plans don’t pay for long-term care.

Acute care hospitals that provide treatment for patients who stay, on average, more than 25 days. Most patients are transferred from an intensive or critical care unit. Services provided include comprehensive rehabilitation, respiratory therapy, head trauma treatment, and pain management.

An independent advocate (supporter) for nursing home and assisted living facility residents who works to solve problems of residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or similar facilities. They may be able to provide information about home health agencies in their area.

M

A joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid programs vary from state to state, but most health care costs are covered if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

A health care provider (like a home health agency, hospital, nursing home, or dialysis facility) that's been approved by Medicaid. Providers are approved or "certified" if they've passed an inspection conducted by a state government agency.

A state or local agency that can give information about, and help with applications for, Medicaid programs that help pay medical bills for people with limited income and resources.

When you believe you have an injury or illness that requires immediate medical attention to prevent a disability or death.

Health care services or supplies needed to diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease, or its symptoms and that meet accepted standards of medicine.

The process that an insurance company uses to decide, based on your medical history, whether to take your application for insurance, whether to add a waiting period for pre-existing conditions (if your state law allows it), and how much to charge you for that insurance.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for:

  • People who are 65 or older
  • Certain younger people with disabilities
  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD)

A company that processes claims for Medicare.

A public or private organization licensed by the State that is under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide covered services for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare Advantage Organizations can offer one or more Medicare Advantage Plans.

A type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans provide all of your Part A and Part B benefits. Medicare Advantage Plans include:

  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Preferred Provider Organizations
  • Private Fee-for-Service Plans
  • Special Needs Plans
  • Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan:

  • Most Medicare services are covered through the plan
  • Medicare services aren’t paid for by Original Medicare

Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer prescription drug coverage.

A Medicare Advantage plan that offers Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), Part A, and Part B benefits in one plan.

In Original Medicare, this is the amount a doctor or supplier that accepts assignment can be paid. It may be less than the actual amount a doctor or supplier charges. Medicare pays part of this amount and you’re responsible for the difference.

A company, person, or agency that's been certified by Medicare to give you a medical item or service, except when you're an inpatient in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

A health care provider (like a home health agency, hospital, nursing home, or dialysis facility) that's been approved by Medicare. Providers are approved or "certified" by Medicare if they've passed an inspection conducted by a state government agency. Medicare only covers care given by providers who are certified.

A type of Medicare health plan available in some areas. In a Medicare Cost Plan, if you get services outside of the plan's network without a referral, your Medicare-covered services will be paid for under Original Medicare (your Cost Plan pays for emergency services or urgently needed services).

A type of Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) available in some areas of the country. In most HMOs, you can only go to doctors, specialists, or hospitals on the plan's list except in an emergency. Most HMOs also require you to get a referral from your primary care physician.

Generally, a plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits to people with Medicare who enroll in the plan. Medicare health plans include all Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Cost Plans, and Demonstration/Pilot Programs. Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) organizations are special types of Medicare health plans. PACE plans can be offered by public or private companies and provide Part D and other benefits in addition to Part A and Part B benefits.

MSA Plans combine a high deductible Medicare Advantage Plan and a bank account. The plan deposits money from Medicare into the account. You can use the money in this account to pay for your health care costs, but only Medicare-covered expenses count toward your deductible. The amount deposited is usually less than your deductible amount so you generally will have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage begins.

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

Part B covers certain doctors' services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

The official name of Medicare's prescription drug program is called Medicare Part D.

Any way other than Original Medicare that you can get your Medicare health or prescription drug coverage. This term includes all Medicare health plans and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

A type of Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) available in some areas of the country in which you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan's network. You can use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network for an additional cost.

Optional benefits for prescription drugs available to all people with Medicare for an additional charge. This coverage is offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare.

Part D adds prescription drug coverage to:

  • Original Medicare
  • Some Medicare Cost Plans
  • Some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans
  • Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans

These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

A type of Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) in which you can generally go to any doctor or hospital you could go to if you had Original Medicare, if the doctor or hospital agrees to treat you. The plan determines how much it will pay doctors and hospitals, and how much you must pay when you get care. A Private Fee-for-Service Plan is very different than Original Medicare, and you must follow the plan rules carefully when you go for health care services. When you're in a Private Fee-for-Service Plan, you may pay more or less for Medicare-covered benefits than in Original Medicare.

A Medicaid program that helps people with limited income and resources pay some or all of their Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.

A type of Medigap policy that may require you to use hospitals and, in some cases, doctors within its network to be eligible for full benefits.

A special type of Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) that provides more focused and specialized health care for specific groups of people, like those who have both Medicare and Medicaid, who live in a nursing home, or have certain chronic medical conditions.

A notice you get after the doctor, other health care provider, or supplier files a claim for Part A or Part B services in Original Medicare. It explains what the doctor, other health care provider, or supplier billed for, the Medicare-approved amount, how much Medicare paid, and what you must pay.

Benefits that all Medigap policies must cover, including Part A and Part B coinsurance amounts, blood, and additional hospital benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

A one-time only, 6-month period when federal law allows you to buy any Medigap policy you want that's sold in your state. It starts in the first month that you're covered under Part B and you're age 65 or older. During this period, you can't be denied a Medigap policy or charged more due to past or present health problems. Some states may have additional open enrollment rights under state law.

Medicare Supplement Insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill "gaps" in Original Medicare coverage.

In general, a group health plan that's sponsored jointly by 2 or more employers.

N

The facilities, providers, and suppliers your health insurer or plan has contracted with to provide health care services.

Pharmacies that have agreed to provide members of certain Medicare plans with services and supplies at a discounted price. In some Medicare plans, your prescriptions are only covered if you get them filled at network pharmacies.

A pharmacy that's part of a Medicare drug plan's network, but isn't a preferred pharmacy. You may pay higher out-of-pocket costs if you get your prescription drugs from a non-preferred pharmacy instead of a preferred pharmacy.

O

Treatment that helps you return to your usual activities (like bathing, preparing meals, and housekeeping) after an illness.

Services that Medicare doesn't cover, but that a Medicare health plan may choose to offer. If you enroll in a plan with these services, you may choose to buy the services. If you choose to buy these benefits, you'll pay for them directly, usually as a premium, copayment, and/or coinsurance. These services may be offered individually or as a group of services, and they may be different for each Medicare health plan.

A decision made by a Medicare Advantage (MA) organization or one of its health care professionals, about MA services or payments that customers believe they should receive.

Original Medicare is a fee-for-service health plan that has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). After you pay a deductible, Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount, and you pay your share (coinsurance and deductibles).

A benefit that may be provided by your Medicare Advantage plan. Generally, this benefit gives you the choice to get plan services from outside of the plan's network of health care providers. In some cases, your out-of-pocket costs may be higher for an out-of-network benefit.

Health or prescription drug costs that you must pay on your own because they aren’t covered by Medicare or other insurance.

This term refers to the feature where once the expenses that you have paid (out-of-pocket spending) reach a certain level, you have a higher level of coverage (typically 100% coverage) for the remainder of the year. See below for the definition of out-of-pocket spending.

The amount you pay for prescription drugs or medical care from your own money when you receive services, whether in the form of a copayment, coinsurance, or 100 percent of costs. If you have an out-of-pocket maximum on your plan these expenses are tracked by your plan during the year to see if you have reached the level where you qualify for a higher level of coverage, typically 100% coverage for the reminder of the year.

Medical or surgical care you get from a hospital when your doctor hasn't written an order to admit you to the hospital as an inpatient. Outpatient hospital care may include emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays. Your care may be considered outpatient hospital care even if you spend the night at the hospital.

P

A test to check for cancer of the cervix, the opening to a woman's uterus. It's done by removing cells from the cervix. The cells are then prepared so they can be seen under a microscope.

A medical device used to lift you from a bed or wheelchair.

An exam to check if internal female organs are normal by feeling their shape and size.

An amount added to your monthly premium for Part B or a Medicare drug plan (Part D) if you don't join when you're first eligible. You pay this higher amount as long as you have Medicare. There are some exceptions.

Pharmacies that have agreed to provide members of certain Medicare plans with services and supplies at a discounted price. In some Medicare plans, your prescriptions are only covered if you get them filled at network pharmacies.

Treatment of an injury or a disease by mechanical means, like exercise, massage, heat, and light treatment.

See "demonstrations."

Foot doctor

In a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), this option lets you use doctors and hospitals outside the plan for an additional cost.

A medical power of attorney is a document that lets you appoint someone you trust to make decisions about your medical care. This type of advance directive also may be called a health care proxy, appointment of health care agent, or a durable power of attorney for health care.

A health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts.

A pharmacy that's part of a Medicare drug plan's network. You pay lower out-of-pocket costs if you get your prescription drugs from a preferred pharmacy instead of a non-preferred pharmacy.

The periodic payment to Medicare, an insurance company, or a health care plan for health or prescription drug coverage.

Health care to prevent illness or detect illness at an early stage, when treatment is likely to work best (for example, preventive services include Pap tests, flu shots, and screening mammograms).

The doctor you see first for most health problems. He or she makes sure you get the care you need to keep you healthy. He or she also may talk with other doctors and health care providers about your care and refer you to them. In many Medicare Advantage Plans, you must see your primary care doctor before you see any other health care provider.

Approval that you must get from a Medicare drug plan before you fill your prescription in order for the prescription to be covered by your plan. Your Medicare drug plan may require prior authorization for certain drugs.

A special type of health plan that provides all the care and services covered by Medicare and Medicaid as well as additional medically necessary care and services based on your needs as determined by an interdisciplinary team. PACE serves frail older adults who need nursing home services but are capable of living in the community. PACE combines medical, social, and long-term care services and prescription drug coverage.

Feeling in the foot or leg that helps warn you that the skin is being injured. Nerve damage caused by diabetes can cause loss of feeling in the foot or leg, also known as "loss of protective sensations (LOPS)." This may result in skin loss, blisters, or ulcers.

Q

A state program that helps pay Part A premiums for people who have Part A and limited income and resources.

Quality Improvement Organizations are groups of practicing doctors and other health care experts. They are paid by the Federal government to check and improve the care given to Medicare patients. They must review your complaints about the quality of care given by any health care professional providing Medicare-covered services. QIOs also hear certain appeals for people with Medicare.

A state program that helps pay Part B premiums for people who have Part A and limited income and resources.

A state program that helps pay Part A premiums, Part B premiums, and other cost-sharing (like deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments) for people who have Part A and limited income and resources.

R

A written order from your primary care doctor for you to see a specialist or get certain medical services. In many Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), you need to get a referral before you can get medical care from anyone except your primary care doctor. If you don't get a referral first, the plan may not pay for the services.

Health care services that help you keep, get back, or improve skills and functioning for daily living that you've lost or have been impaired because you were sick, hurt, or disabled. These services may include physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and psychiatric rehabilitation services in a variety of inpatient and/or outpatient settings.

A facility that provides nonmedical health care items and services to people who need hospital or skilled nursing facility care, but for whom that care would be inconsistent with their religious beliefs.

Temporary care provided in a nursing home, hospice inpatient facility, or hospital so that a family member or friend who is the patient's caregiver can rest or take some time off.

A federally qualified health center (FQHC) that provides health care services in rural areas where there's a shortage of health care services.

S

A medical procedure to check for breast cancer before you or a doctor may be able to find it manually.

The insurance policy, plan, or program that pays second on a claim for medical care. This could be Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance depending on the situation.

A geographic area where a health insurance plan accepts members if it limits membership based on where people live. For plans that limit which doctors and hospitals you may use, it's also generally the area where you can get routine (non-emergency) services. The plan may disenroll you if you move out of the plan's service area.

Care like intravenous injections that can only be given by a registered nurse or doctor.

A nursing facility with the staff and equipment to give skilled nursing care and, in most cases, skilled rehabilitative services and other related health services.

Skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services provided on a daily basis, in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Examples of SNF care include physical therapy or intravenous injections that can only be given by a registered nurse or doctor.

A state program that helps pay Part B premiums for people who have Part A and limited income and resources.

Treatment that helps you strengthen or regain speech, language, and swallowing skills.

The minimum coverage required by law for a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. Plans can choose to offer better benefits and lower costs.

A state program that gets money from the federal government to give free local health insurance counseling to people with Medicare.

A state agency that regulates insurance and can provide information about Medigap policies and other private health insurance.

A state or local agency that can give information about, and help with applications for, Medicaid programs that help pay medical bills for people with limited income and resources.

A state program that provides help paying for drug coverage based on financial need, age, or medical condition.

A state agency that oversees health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and/or Medicaid programs by, for example, inspecting health care facilities and investigating complaints to ensure that health and safety standards are met.

A coverage rule used by some Medicare Prescription Drug Plans that requires you to try one or more similar, lower cost drugs to treat your condition before the plan will cover the prescribed drug.

When one or more of the bones of your spine move out of position.

A monthly benefit paid by Social Security to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. SSI benefits aren't the same as Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Generally, any company, person, or agency that gives you a medical item or service, except when you're an inpatient in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

T

Medical or other health services given to a patient using a communications system (like a computer, phone, or television) by a practitioner in a location different than the patient's.

Groups of drugs that have a different cost for each group. Generally, a drug in a lower tier will cost you less than a drug in a higher tier.

What you pay, or others pay on your behalf, plus the amount paid by your plan for drugs.

A health care program for active-duty and retired uniformed services members and their families.

Expanded medical coverage available to Medicare-eligible uniformed services retirees age 65 or older, their eligible family members and survivors, and certain former spouses.

A TTY (teletypewriter) is a communication device used by people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have severe speech impairment. People who don't have a TTY can communicate with a TTY user through a message relay center (MRC). An MRC has TTY operators available to send and interpret TTY messages.

U

Care that you get outside of your Medicare health plan's service area for a sudden illness or injury that needs medical care right away but isn’t life threatening. If it’s not safe to wait until you get home to get care from a plan doctor, the health plan must pay for the care.

V

There are no words in our glossary that begin with this letter.

 

W

An organization (sometimes called an Independent Review Entity or IRE) that has no connection to your Medicare health plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Medicare contracts with the IRE to review your case if you appeal your plan's payment or coverage decision or if your plan doesn't make a timely appeals decision.

The first level of coverage in a Medicare Prescription Drug plan. In this level you typically pay only a portion of the cost (might be a copay or coinsurance) to fill your prescriptions until you reach a next certain level where the Coverage Gap begins. With some plans there may be a deductible before the Initial Coverage begins.

Once you've met your yearly deductible, you'll pay a copayment or coinsurance for each covered drug until you reach your plan's out-of-pocket maximum (or initial coverage limit). You'll then enter your plan's coverage gap (also called the "donut hole").

Doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers that have agreed to provide members of a certain insurance plan with services and supplies at a discounted price. In some insurance plans, your care is only covered if you get it from in-network doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care providers.

Health care that you get when you're admitted to a health care facility, like a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Treatment you get in an acute care hospital, critical access hospital, inpatient rehabilitation facility, long-term care hospital, inpatient care as part of a qualifying research study, and mental health care.

Services you get when you're admitted to a hospital, including bed and board, nursing services, diagnostic or therapeutic services, and medical or surgical services.

Hospitals that have contracted with Medicare to provide acute inpatient care and accept a predetermined rate as payment in full.

A hospital, or part of a hospital, that provides an intensive rehabilitation program to inpatients.

X

There are no words in our glossary that begin with this letter.

 

 

Y

There are no words in our glossary that begin with this letter.


Z

There are no words in our glossary that begin with this letter.

 

This glossary explains terms in the Medicare program, but it isn't a legal document. The official Medicare program provisions are found in the relevant laws, regulations, and rulings.