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Medicare Glossary of Terms

Appeal – An appeal is something you do if you disagree with a decision to deny a request for health care services or prescription drugs or payment for services or drugs you already received. You may also make an appeal if you disagree with a decision to stop services that you are receiving. For example, you may ask for an appeal if our Plan doesn’t pay for a drug, item, or service you think you should be able to receive. Chapter 9 explains appeals, including the process involved in making an appeal.

Benefit Period – For both our Plan and Original Medicare, a benefit period is used to determine coverage for inpatient stays in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. A benefit period begins on the first day you go to a Medicare-covered inpatient hospital or a skilled nursing facility. The benefit period ends when you haven’t been an inpatient at any hospital or SNF for 60 days in a row. If you go to the hospital (or SNF) after one benefit period has ended, a new benefit period begins. There is no limit to the number of benefit periods you can have.

The type of care that is covered depends on whether you are considered an inpatient for hospital and SNF stays. You must be admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, not just under observation. You are an inpatient in a SNF only if your care in the SNF meets certain standards for skilled level of care. Specifically, in order to be an inpatient in a SNF, you must need daily skilled-nursing or skilled-rehabilitation care, or both.

Brand Name Drug – A prescription drug that is manufactured and sold by the pharmaceutical company that originally researched and developed the drug. Brand name drugs have the same active-ingredient formula as the generic version of the drug. However, generic drugs are manufactured and sold by other drug manufacturers and are generally not available until after the patent on the brand name drug has expired.

Calendar Year – The period that begins on January 1 and ends 12 consecutive months later on December 31.

Catastrophic Coverage Stage – The stage in the Part D Drug Benefit where you pay a low copayment or coinsurance for your drugs after you or other qualified parties on your behalf have spent $4,550 in covered drugs during the covered year.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – The Federal agency that runs Medicare.

Coinsurance – A payment you make for your share of the cost of certain covered services you receive. Coinsurance is a percentage of the cost of the service (such as paying 20% of the cost for each medically necessary Medicare-covered diabetic supply item). You pay your coinsurance when you receive the service.

Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF) – A facility that mainly provides rehabilitation services after an illness or injury, and provides a variety of services including physician’s services, physical therapy, social or psychological services, and outpatient rehabilitation.

Copayment – A fee you pay to your health care provider at the time of service in accordance with Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) Schedule of Benefits for the specific plan which you enrolled in.


Cost-sharing – Cost-sharing refers to amounts that a member has to pay when drugs or services are received. It includes any combination of the following three types of payments: (1) any deductible amount a plan may impose before drugs or services are covered; (2) any fixed “copayment” amounts that a plan may require be paid when specific drugs or services are received; or (3) any “coinsurance” amount that must be paid as a percentage of the total amount paid for a drug or service.

Cost-sharing Tier – Every drug on the list of covered drugs is in one of five cost-sharing tiers. In general, the higher the cost-sharing tier, the higher your cost for the drug.


Coverage Determination – A decision about whether a medical service or drug prescribed for you is covered by the plan and the amount, if any, you are required to pay for the service or prescription. In general, if you bring your prescription to a pharmacy and the pharmacy tells you the prescription isn’t covered under your plan, that isn’t a coverage determination. You need to call or write to your plan to ask for a formal decision about the coverage if you disagree.

Coverage Exclusion – (See Exclusion).

Covered Drugs – The term we use to mean all of the prescription drugs covered by our Plan.

Covered Services – The general term we use to mean all of the health care services and supplies that are covered by our Plan.

Creditable Prescription Drug Coverage – Prescription drug coverage (for example, from an employer or union) that is expected to cover, 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.

Custodial Care – Care for personal needs rather than medically necessary needs. Custodial care is care that can be provided by people who don’t have professional skills or training. This care includes help with walking, dressing, bathing, eating, preparation of special diets, and taking medication. Medicare does not cover custodial care unless it is provided as other care you are getting in addition to daily skilled nursing care and/or skilled rehabilitation services.

Deductible – The amount you must pay before our plan begins to pay its share of your covered medical services or drugs.
Disenroll or Disenrollment – The process of ending your membership in our plan. Disenrollment may be voluntary (your own choice) or involuntary (not your own choice).


Durable Medical Equipment – Certain medical equipment that is ordered by your doctor for use in the home. Examples are walkers, wheelchairs, or hospital beds.

Effective Date – The date your Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) health care coverage begins. We provide you written notification of your Effective Date.

Emergency Care – Covered services that are: 1) rendered by a provider qualified to furnish emergency services; and 2) needed to evaluate or stabilize an emergency medical condition.

Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and Disclosure Information – This document, along with your enrollment form and any other attachments, riders, or other optional coverage selected, which explains your coverage, what we must do, your rights, and what you have to do as a member of our Plan.
 
Exception – A type of coverage determination that, if approved, allows you to get a drug that is not on your plan sponsor’s formulary (a formulary exception), or get a non-preferred drug at the preferred cost-sharing level (a tiering exception). You may also request an exception if your plan sponsor requires you to try another drug before receiving the drug you are requesting, or the plan limits the quantity or dosage of the drug you are requesting (a formulary exception).


Exclusion – Items or services that are excluded from coverage and neither Medicare or Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) cover. You are responsible for paying for excluded items or services along with any applicable cost sharing, co-payments, or coinsurance amounts that may be part of the specific Plan in which you enrolled.

Experimental Procedure and Items – Items and procedures determined by Medicare not to be generally accepted by the medical community. When deciding if a service or item is experimental, Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) will follow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ manuals or will follow decisions already made by Medicare. With the exception of procedures and items under approved clinical trials, experimental procedures and items are not a covered benefit through Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO). Note: CMS has special coverage provisions for Clinical Trials that meet Medicare approval and you have the right to enroll in a Medicare approved clinical trial program.
 
Fee-For-Service Medicare – A payment system by which doctors, hospitals and other providers are paid for each service performed (also known as traditional and/or Original Medicare).


Formulary – A list of covered drugs provided by the Plan.

Generic Drug – A prescription drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as having the same active ingredient(s) as the brand-name drug. Generally, generic drugs cost less than brand-name drugs.

Grievance – A type of complaint you make about us or one of our network providers or pharmacies, including a complaint concerning the quality of your care. This type of complaint does not involve coverage or payment disputes.

Home Health Aide – A home health aide provides services that don’t need the skills of a licensed nurse or therapist, such as help with personal care (e.g., bathing, using the toilet, dressing, or carrying out prescribed exercises). Home health aides do not have a nursing license or provide therapy.

Home health care – Skilled nursing care and certain other health care services that you get in your home for the treatment of an illness or injury. Covered services are listed in the Benefits Chart in Section 4 under the heading “Home health care.” If you need home health care services, our Plan will cover these services for you provided the Medicare coverage requirements are met. Home health care can include services from a home health aide if the services are part of the home health plan of care for your illness or injury. They aren’t covered unless you are also getting a covered skilled service. Home health services don’t include the services of housekeepers, food service arrangements, or full time nursing care at home.

Hospice care – A special way of caring for people who are terminally ill and providing counseling for their families. Hospice care is physical care and counseling that is given by a team of people who are part of a Medicare-certified public agency or private company. Depending on the situation, this care may be given in the home, a hospice facility, a hospital, or a nursing home. Care from a hospice is meant to help patients in the last months of life by giving comfort and relief from pain. The focus is on care, not cure. For more information on hospice care visit http://www.medicare.gov and under “Search Tools” choose “Find a Medicare Publication” to view or download the publication “Medicare Hospice Benefits.” Or, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227. TTY/TDD users should call 1-877-486-2048)

Hospitalist – A physician who specializes in treating patients when they are in the hospital and who may coordinate a patient’s care when he or she is admitted at an Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) contracted hospital.


Independent Physician Association (IPA) - A group of doctors certified by Medicare, including your Primary Care Physician (PCP, that have contracted together to coordinate care as well as provide covered services to members of our Plan.

Independent Review Entity – MAXIMUS Federal Services, Inc - An independent review entity under contract with CMS to review appeals by members of Medicare Managed Care Plans, including Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) Members.

Initial Coverage Limit – The maximum limit of coverage under the Initial Coverage Stage.

Initial Coverage Stage – This is the stage before your total drug expenses, have reached $3,400, including amounts you’ve paid and what our Plan has paid on your behalf.

Inpatient Care – Health care that you get when you are admitted to a hospital.

Late Enrollment Penalty – An amount added to your monthly premium for Medicare drug coverage if you go without creditable coverage (coverage that expects to pay, on average, at least as much as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage) for a continuous period of 63 days or more. You pay this higher amount as long as you have a Medicare drug plan. There are some exceptions.

List of Covered Drugs (Formulary or “Drug List”) – A list of covered drugs provided by the plan. The drugs on this list are selected by the plan with the help of doctors and pharmacists. The list includes both brand-name and generic drugs.

Low Income Subsidy/Extra Help – A Medicare program to help people with limited income and resources pay Medicare prescription drug program costs, such as premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.

Medicaid (or Medical Assistance) – A joint Federal and State program that helps with medical costs for some people with low incomes and limited resources. Medicaid programs vary from state to state, but most health care costs are covered if you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. See Chapter 2, Section 6 for information about how to contact Medicaid in your state.

Medically Necessary – Drugs, services, or supplies that are proper and needed for the diagnosis or treatment of your medical condition; are used for the diagnosis, direct care, and treatment of your medical condition; meet the standards of good medical practice in the local community; and are not mainly for your convenience or that of your doctor.

Medicare – The Federal health insurance program for people 65 years of age or older, some people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (generally those with permanent kidney failure who need dialysis or a kidney transplant). People with Medicare can get their Medicare health coverage through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) – Medicare Advantage Organizations are run by private companies and may contract with Medicare to offer a number of different Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans. They give you more options, and sometimes, extra benefits. These plans are still part of the Medicare Program and are also called Medicare “Part C.” They provide all your Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical) coverage. Some may also provide Part D (prescription drug) coverage.

Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan – Sometimes called Medicare Part C. A plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Medicare Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical) benefits. A Medicare Advantage plan can be an HMO, PPO, a Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plan, or a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) plan. In most cases, Medicare Advantage plans also offer Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). These plans are called Medicare Advantage Plans with Prescription Drug Coverage. Everyone who has Medicare Part A and Part B is eligible to join any Medicare Health Plan that is offered in their area, except people with End-Stage Renal Disease (unless certain exceptions apply).

Medicare Coverage Gap Discount Program – A program that provides discounts on most covered Part D brand name drugs to Part D enrollees who have reached the Coverage Gap Stage and who are not already receiving “Extra Help.” Discounts are based on agreements between the Federal government and certain drug manufacturers. For this reason, most, but not all, brand name drugs are discounted.


Medicare Managed Care Plan – Means a Medicare Advantage HMO, Medicare Cost Plan, or Medicare Advantage PPO.

Medicare Part A – Hospital Insurance benefits including inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, home health agency care and hospice care offered through Medicare.

Medicare Part B – Supplementary medical insurance that is optional and requires a monthly premium. Part B covers physician services (in both hospital and non-hospital settings) and services furnished by certain non-physician practitioners. Other Part B services include lab testing, Durable Medical Equipment, diagnostic tests, ambulance services, prescription drugs that cannot be self-administered, certain self-administered anti-cancer drugs, some other therapy services, certain other health services, and blood not covered under Part A.

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Medicare Part D) – Insurance to help pay for outpatient prescription drugs, vaccines, biologicals, and some supplies not covered by Medicare Part A or Part B.

“Medigap” (Medicare Supplement Insurance) Policy – Medicare supplement insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill “gaps” in Original Medicare. Medigap policies only work with Original Medicare. (A Medicare Advantage plan is not a Medigap policy.)

Member (Member of our Plan, or “Plan Member”) – A person with Medicare who is eligible to get covered services, who has enrolled in our Plan and whose enrollment has been confirmed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Member Services – A department within our Plan responsible for answering your questions about your membership, benefits, grievances, and appeals. See Chapter 2 for information about how to contact Member Services.

Membership ID Card – An identification card issued to members by Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO). Your membership ID card must be presented whenever and wherever care is received.

Network – A group of health care providers under contract with Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO) that is licensed and/or certified by Medicare with the purpose of delivering or furnishing health care services. Generally, members must receive routine services within their designated network in order to be covered by Inter Valley Health Plan Service To Seniors (HMO).

Network Hospital – A Medicare-certified institution licensed by the State, that provides inpatient, outpatient, emergency, diagnostic and therapeutic services. The term “hospital” does not include a convalescent nursing home, rest facility or any other facility for the aged that primarily provides custodial care, including training in routines of daily living.

Network Pharmacy – A network pharmacy is a pharmacy where members of our Plan can get their prescription drug benefits. We call them “network pharmacies” because they contract with our Plan. In most cases, your prescriptions are covered only if they are filled at one of our network pharmacies.

Network Provider – “Provider” is the general term we use for doctors, other health care professionals, hospitals, and other health care facilities that are licensed or certified by Medicare and by the State to provide health care services. We call them “network providers” when they have an agreement with our Plan to accept our payment as payment in full, and in some cases to coordinate as well as provide covered services to members of our Plan. Our Plan pays network providers based on the agreements it has with the providers or if the providers agree to provide you with plan-covered services. Network providers may also be referred to as “plan providers.”

Non-plan provider or non-plan facility – A provider or facility with which we have not arranged to coordinate or provide covered services to members of our Plan. Non-plan providers are providers that are not employed, owned, or operated by our Plan or are not under contract to deliver covered services to you. As explained in this booklet, most services you get from non-plan providers are not covered by our Plan or Original Medicare.


Optional Supplemental Benefits – Non-Medicare-covered benefits that can be purchased for an additional premium and are not included in your package of benefits. If you choose to have optional supplemental benefits, you may have to pay an additional premium. You must voluntarily elect Optional Supplemental Benefits in order to get them.

Organization Determination – The Medicare Advantage organization has made an organization determination when it, or one of its providers, makes a decision about whether services are covered or how much you have to pay for covered services.

Original Medicare (“Traditional Medicare” or “Fee-for-service” Medicare) – Original Medicare is offered by the government, and not a private health plan like Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans. Under Original Medicare, Medicare services are covered by paying doctors, hospitals and other health care providers payment amounts established by Congress. You can see any doctor, hospital, or other health care provider that accepts Medicare. You must pay the deductible. Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount, and you pay your share. Original Medicare has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) and is available everywhere in the United States.

Out-of-Network Pharmacy – A pharmacy that doesn’t have a contract with our plan to coordinate or provide covered drugs to members of our plan. As explained in this Evidence of Coverage, most drugs you get from out-of-network pharmacies are not covered by our plan unless certain conditions apply.

Out-of-Network Provider or Out-of-Network Facility – A provider or facility with which we have not arranged to coordinate or provide covered services to members of our plan. Out-of-network providers are providers that are not employed, owned, or operated by our plan or are not under contract to deliver covered services to you.

Out-of-Pocket Costs – See the definition for “cost-sharing” above. A member’s cost-sharing requirement to pay for a portion of services or drugs received is also referred to as the member’s “out-of-pocket” cost requirement.

Out-of-Pocket Maximum – The maximum amount that you pay out-of-pocket during the calendar year, usually at the time services are received, for covered Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) services. Plan premiums and Medicare Part A and Part B premiums do not count toward the out-of-pocket maximum.

Part C – see “Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan”.

Part D – The voluntary Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program. (For ease of reference, we will refer to the prescription drug benefit program as Part D.)

Part D Drugs – Drugs that can be covered under Part D. We may or may not offer all Part D drugs. (See your formulary for a specific list of covered drugs.) Certain categories of drugs were specifically excluded by Congress from being covered as Part D drugs.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan – A Preferred Provider Organization plan is a Medicare Advantage plan that has a network of contracted providers that have agreed to treat plan members for a specified payment amount. A PPO plan must cover all plan benefits whether they are received from network or out-of-network providers. Member cost-sharing will generally be higher when plan benefits are received from out-of-network providers. PPO plans have an annual limit on your out-of-pocket costs for services received from network (preferred) providers and a higher catastrophic limit on your total annual out-of-pocket costs for services from both network (preferred) and out-of-network (non-preferred) providers.

Primary Care Physician (PCP) – A health care professional you select to coordinate your health care. Your PCP is responsible for providing or authorizing covered services while you are a plan member. Chapter 3 tells more about PCPs.

Prior Authorization – Approval in advance to get services or certain drugs that may or may not be on our formulary. Some in-network medical services are covered only if your doctor or other network provider gets “prior authorization” from our Plan. Some drugs are covered only if your doctor or other network provider gets “prior authorization” from us. Covered drugs that need prior authorization are marked in the formulary.

Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) – Groups of practicing doctors and other health care experts that 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 Medicare Providers. See Chapter 2, Section 4 for information about how to contact the QIO in your state and Chapter 9 for information about making complaints to the QIO.

Quantity Limits – A management tool that is designed to limit the use of selected drugs for quality, safety, or utilization reasons. Limits may be on the amount of the drug that we cover per prescription or for a defined period of time.


Rehabilitation Services – These services include physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy.

Service Area – “Service area” is the geographic area approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) within which an eligible individual may enroll in a certain plan, and in the case of network plans, where a network must be available to provide services.

Skilled nursing facility (SNF) care – A level of care in a SNF ordered by a doctor that must be given or supervised by licensed health care professionals. It may be skilled nursing care, or skilled rehabilitation services, or both. Skilled nursing care includes services that require the skills of a licensed nurse to perform or supervise. Skilled rehabilitation services are physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Physical therapy includes exercise to improve the movement and strength of an area of the body, and training on how to use special equipment, such as how to use a walker or get in and out of a wheelchair. Speech therapy includes exercise to regain and strengthen speech and/or swallowing skills. Occupational therapy helps you learn how to perform usual daily activities, such as eating and dressing by yourself.

Special Needs Plan – A special type of Medicare Advantage plan that provides more focused health care for specific groups of people, such as those who have both Medicare and Medicaid, who reside in a nursing home, or who have certain chronic medical conditions.

Step Therapy – A utilization tool that requires you to first try another drug to treat your medical condition before we will cover the drug your physician may have initially prescribed.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – A monthly benefit paid by the Social Security Administration to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 and older. SSI benefits are not the same as Social Security benefits.

Urgently Needed Care – Urgently needed care is a non-emergency situation when you need medical care right away because of an illness, injury, or condition that you did not expect or anticipate, but your health is not in serious danger.