Explanations of the words and phrases used by Medicare are in the Medicare Glossary.
Meals on Wheels — Local agencies provide low cost, hot, nourishing meals to the elderly and disabled, allowing frail, homebound people to remain in their own homes. To find a local program near you or your loved one, click on Meals on Wheels; once at their Web site, click on Find A Meal. Enter the State and City where you want to find a program and click the Search button. Or, you can call the toll-free ElderCare Locator number at 1-800-677-1116, weekdays from 9AM to 8PM, Eastern time, for the nearest Meals On Wheels program.
Medicaid — A joint federal/state program that pays for health care for individuals and families with low incomes or very high medical bills relative to their income and assets. Coverage and eligibility requirements vary from state-to-state. Medicaid is the primary payer of nursing home care. Some states also offer some home and community-based long-term care services for eligible individuals through their Medicaid programs. These additional services are at the option of the state and are not mandated by federal law.
Medi-Cal — California’s Medicaid program.
Medically Necessary — This is a term used by insurance companies to determine the extent to which the company may pay benefits. It means those services or supplies that meet accepted standards of medical practice and are essential for the diagnosis and treatment of your health condition. Insurance companies usually do not pay for services or supplies that they decide are not medically necessary.
Medicare — The federal program that provides hospital and medical care to people age 65 or older, and to some younger people who are very ill or disabled. Benefits for nursing home and short-term home health services are limited and are generally available only to people while they are recovering from an acute illness. Coverage is restricted to medical care, and does not include custodial care at home or in nursing homes.
Medicare Supplement Insurance — A private insurance policy that covers many of the gaps in Medicare coverage (also known as Medigap Insurance or Medicare Supplemental Insurance). Except in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, there are 11 standardized plans. (Not all insurance companies offer all 11 plans.) Medicare Supplement Insurance policies work only if you are enrolled in the Original Medicare Plan. But, they won’t pay any benefits if you are enrolled in a Medicare HMO or another type of Medicare Plus plan. Medicare Supplement policies can minimize Medicare copayments and deductibles for covered services, but generally do not offer expanded coverage such as long-term care services or prescription drugs.
Medigap — See Medicare Supplement Insurance (the paragraph above).
Minimum Distribution — The minimum annual required distribution amount for an IRA holder reaching age 70 1/2; also called Required Minimum Distribution (RMD).
Nephrologist — A physician who specializes in kidney problems, including fluid or mineral imbalances.
Network — A group of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other health care professionals hired by a managed healthcare plan to take care of its members.
Neurologist — A physician who specializes in conditions that affect the nervous system such as impaired nerve function and diseases of the brain or spinal cord. These conditions can include Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Noncancellable Policies — Insurance policies that cannot be cancelled by the insurance company, except for non-payment of the required insurance premiums. And, the rates can never be changed by the insurance company.
Nonforfeiture Benefits — After a long-term care insurance policy has been in force for a sufficient period of time, you will be entitled to a nonforfeiture benefit if you let the policy lapse. Instead of cancelling the policy, the nonforfeiture benefit allows you to keep it in force as a paid-up policy. Nonforfeiture benefits vary from policy-to-policy; they usually include (1) keeping the same benefit amounts, but making the benefit period shorter, or (2) keeping the same benefit period, but with reduced benefit amounts.
Nursing Home — A state-licensed residential facility that provides a room, meals, help with activities of daily living, recreation, and general nursing care to people who are chronically ill or unable to take care of their daily living needs. It may also be called a Long Term Care Facility. If it has been certified as such by Medicare, it is also referred to as a Skilled Nursing Facility. For more information, click on Nursing Homes.