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Glossary - S

This glossary explains terms in the Medicare program.


Screening mammogram

A medical procedure to check for breast cancer before you or a doctor may be able to find it manually.

Secondary payer

The insurance policy, plan, or program that pays second on a claim for medical care. This could be Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance depending on the situation.

Service area

A geographic area where a health insurance plan accepts members if it limits membership based on where people live. For plans that limit which doctors and hospitals you may use, it's also generally the area where you can get routine (non-emergency) services. The plan may disenroll you if you move out of the plan's service area.

Skilled nursing care

Care like intravenous injections that can only be given by a registered nurse or doctor.

Skilled nursing facility (SNF)

A nursing facility with the staff and equipment to give skilled nursing care and, in most cases, skilled rehabilitative services and other related health services.

Skilled nursing facility care

Skilled nursing care and rehabilitation services provided on a daily basis, in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Examples of SNF care include physical therapy or intravenous injections that can only be given by a registered nurse or doctor.

Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program

A state program that helps pay Part B premiums for people who have Part A and limited income and resources.

Speech-language therapy (speech-language pathology services)

Treatment that helps you strengthen or regain speech, language, and swallowing skills.

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)

A state program that gets money from the federal government to give free local health insurance counseling to people with Medicare.

State Insurance Department

A state agency that regulates insurance and can provide information about Medigap policies and other private health insurance.

State Medical Assistance (Medicaid) office

A state or local agency that can give information about, and help with applications for, Medicaid programs that help pay medical bills for people with limited income and resources.

State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program (SPAP)

A state program that provides help paying for drug coverage based on financial need, age, or medical condition.

State Survey Agency

A state agency that oversees health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and/or Medicaid programs by, for example,  inspecting health care facilities and investigating complaints to ensure that health and safety standards are met.

Step therapy

A coverage rule used by some Medicare Prescription Drug Plans that requires you to try one or more similar, lower cost drugs to treat your condition before the plan will cover the prescribed drug.


When one or more of the bones of your spine move out of position.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

A monthly benefit paid by Social Security to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. SSI benefits aren't the same as Social Security retirement or disability benefits.


Generally, any company, person, or agency that gives you a medical item or service, except when you're an inpatient in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

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This glossary explains terms in the Medicare program, but it isn't a legal document. The official Medicare program provisions are found in the relevant laws, regulations, and rulings.