Expand Medicare Services

Medicare is funded by a combination of money. Some paid directly from paychecks and taxes paid by working Americans and their employers. Kaiser Health News had an article on the lack of essential services Medicare actually provides, and the need to expand services.

“Traditional” Medicare does not cover many benefits used overwhelmingly by its beneficiaries, including most vision, dental and hearing care. Drug coverage is available only by purchasing a separate insurance plan — Medicare Part D. A recent outline of a budget bill includes a directive to the Senate Finance Committee to expand Medicare “to include dental, vision, hearing benefits.”

During the 1980s and ’90s, Medicare added some preventive care like pneumonia vaccines and mammograms. The addition of prescription drug coverage in 2003 was separate from the program’s traditional benefit package.

Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care. Custodial care includes personal care. Assistance in activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom, or preparing food. Custodial care tends to be expensive ($50,000 to $100,000 a year or more) but needed by beneficiaries after age 80.