For many people, the ins and outs of Medicare are bewildering and intimidating. To help reduce some of the mystery, the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club asked Dr. Mary Headrick for clarification at its monthly meeting.
"When you've got somebody this close to home who's an expert, bring them in," club President Rita Fehring said.
Headrick, a Democrat who ran in the 3rd Congressional District primary last year and is a practicing physician in Union County, explained how "means testing" works, the system of graduated premium payments that Medicare recipients are required to pay.
"As a physician, I'm very concerned about [the middle bracket] being able to afford everything because there's lots that Medicare doesn't cover, whether it's the copays, the deductibles or the premium charge," she told the group.
More than half of Medicare recipients make less than $22,900 a year, she said. And because payments are graduated by income, those who are too poor to afford the payments but make too much to qualify for complete coverage don't get adequate coverage.
"We're not talking about a wealthy pool of folks here," she said.
Headrick said despite bipartisan squabbles about Medicare, many people support the federal health care program.
Katherine Benefield, a retired educator from Soddy-Daisy, says Medicare is indispensable.
"I think it's absolutely necessary," she said.
Headrick said people must understand how Medicare works. The key, she said, is in the details.
"I've given a lot of details to explain the way we do means testing in Medicare because those details are the sort of things we need to understand if we're going to bellyache or say 'yeah, I agree with that,' as they go through budget negotiations," she said.