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HEALTH CARE FAQs

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that was created in 1965 to help Americans, who are 65 years or older and certain persons categorized by the government as disabled, pay for health care. The program is run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Does Medicare cover Christian Science nursing services?

Since the beginning of the Medicare program, the Social Security Act has contained provisions authorizing Medicare payment for qualified Christian Science nursing services furnished in certified Christian Science Sanatoriums (nursing facilities). With more recent legislation, Medicare regulations have replaced mention of Christian Science nursing and Christian Science Sanatoriums with the term “Religious Nonmedical Health Care Institutions” (RNHCI) to avoid giving government support to a single religious group. Of the twenty or so Christian Science nursing facilities in the United States, many are certified as Medicare RNHCI facilities, including Arden Wood.

What does Medicare cover for Christian Scientists?

Medicare provides basic coverage, but it does not cover all health care costs. It was designed to help prevent major medical expenses from causing financial ruin. It was not designed to pay 100% of your health care bills. There are four “Parts” to Medicare coverage: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. The only part that applies to Christian Science nursing care is Part A.

Part A (Hospital Coverage): If you are admitted to a hospital or a religious nonmedical health care institution (RNHCI), such as Arden Wood, Part A helps pay for the following:

  • Semi-private* room and meals
  • Regular nursing services (this does not include metaphysical support, such as practitioner fees or the service of reading religious literature to patients)
  • Nursing supplies

What must I do to qualify for Medicare coverage if I receive care from a Christian Science nursing facility?

In order to receive Medicare benefits at a Christian Science nursing facility (or RNHCI), the rules require Medicare beneficiaries (patients) to specifically choose or “elect” to receive care in a RNHCI based on their own religious convictions. Patients may also revoke that election at any time if for any reason they decide to pursue medical care. The beneficiary must have a valid election* (in writing and notarized) in effect to receive Medicare payment for any RNHCI services.

* Definition of Election: A written statement signed by a Medicare beneficiary or the beneficiary’s legal representative (using a valid Power of Attorney or an Advance Health Care Directive) indicating the beneficiary’s choice to receive non-medical care or treatment for religious reasons.

How do I apply for Medicare?

If you are already receiving benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, you will automatically be notified to sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B, and you will be eligible to sign up for Part D as of the first day of the month you turn 65. If you are under the age of 65 and disabled (as determined by the government), you will automatically get Medicare Part A and Part B, and be eligible to sign up for Part D after you have received social security disability or Railroad Retirement benefits for 24 months. If you are close to the age of 65 and not yet receiving Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, but you would like Medicare coverage, you must apply for Part A and/or Parts B and D.

To apply for Medicare Part A and/or Parts B and D benefits, you should call the Social Security Administration at 1(800) 772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office three to six months before your 65th birthday.