Part 1: What You Need to Know about Medicare and Cancer


Navigating Medicare can be notoriously difficult. Even learning what Medicare does and doesn’t cover can be difficult. But, unfortunately, this process is even more difficult when you or someone you love is dealing with something as serious as cancer.

In this three-part blog post, we will explore some of the best ways to make sure you and your loved ones will receive the care they need during this trying time.

Cancer Treatments and Original Medicare (Medicare A and B)

The most basic form of Medicare, comprised of parts A and B, will offer some support for the most basic needs of you or your loved one. Common treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy will be partially covered, although the amount you are expected to pay will vary depending on whether the procedure is performed inpatient or outpatient.

Medicare A

If you are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy as an inpatient procedure, then you will be covered by Medicare A once you have reached your deductible, although radiation might include a co-pay.

Medicare A is an excellent choice for many Americans, but it is not enough to cover a thorough cancer treatment on its own, as medicare A does not cover outpatient procedures or prescription drugs.

That is why many people pair it with Medicare B.

Medicare B

Medicare B is designed to help with the costs of outpatient procedures performed in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. Not only does this program cover outpatient chemotherapy and radiation therapy, it also covers a limited number of self-administered prescriptions, such as anti-nausea pills. Medicare Part B even covers certain types of cancer screening, like breast and prostate exams. This fact is particularly important given that a biennial breast exam has been shown to reduce the number of breast cancer-related deaths for women between ages 65 and 74, according to a 2013 study by The State of Aging and Health in America.

The downside with Medicare B is that it is more expensive than having only medicare A. In addition to a monthly fee, Medicare B also requires a deductible and a typical copayment of 20% the Medicare approved cost for a procedure or medicine. Like most Medicare supplement insurance plans, the so-called Medigap plans, the improved coverage will cost you.

Why Original Medicare May Not be Enough.

An effective cancer treatment requires a well-rounded approach involving a number of treatments and medicines. While Medicare A and B can help with a number of your healthcare costs, many of the prescription drugs that you will need may not be covered, leaving you responsible for the total cost.

In part two of this three part series, we will examine your options for Medicare supplement insurance, as well as cancer care insurance policies to help you decide what is the best insurance option to help you or your loved one’s fight against cancer.

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