The most common types of Medicare Advantage plans are health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, which accounted for the majority of total Medicare Advantage enrollments in 2017, preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans and special needs plans (SNPS). The basic qualifications to join one of these plans are living in the plan’s service area, having Medicare Parts A and B, and not having end-stage renal disease. HMO point-of-service (HMOPOS) plans and medical savings account (MSA) plans are less common.
What Medicare covers in Minnesota is determined entirely by the plan. Medicare Part A coverage is focused primarily on hospital insurance. Some of the services that are covered by Medicare Part A include inpatient hospital care, some nursing facility costs, limited home health services, and some hospice cares. The most important factor for determining Medicare Part A coverage in Minnesota is whether or not a doctor recommended it. For example, the coverage could extend to physical or occupational therapy, if recommended by a doctor. Anything that is not strictly recommended will not be covered.
Managed Health Network (MHN), a Health Net company, will replace Optum Behavioral Health as administrator of UC Blue & Gold HMO’s behavioral health benefits, effective Jan. 1, 2019. MHN will continue as the administrator of behavioral health benefits for Health Net Seniority Plus. For questions about the behavioral health transition, and about support available to you if your behavioral health provider is not part of MHN’s network, call MHN at 800-663-9355.
But the costs per person that had once been too low to attract beneficiaries then became too high to afford long term. So in 2009, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) reported that Medicare would spend 14 percent more on Medicare Advantage beneficiaries per person that year than they did per person for "like beneficiaries" under traditional Medicare, theoretically adding an additional 3% ($14 billion) to the cost of the overall Medicare program compared to spending without Part C, This lack of parity and disconnect with the original goal of Part C was primarily caused by so-called Private Fee for Service (PFFS) plans (designed primarily for the rural and urban poor), special needs plans (SNPs), and Employer Group plans (which primarily served retired union members). A special situation relative to Puerto Rico contributed to the imbalance at that time. However the lack of parity also applied to a lesser degree to HMO and PPO plans nationwide.
People often ask us our opinion on which plan is the best Medicare Advantage plan. This varies based on a number of personal factors. What’s right for your friend or neighbor may not be right for you. Don’t risk making a mistake on something as critical as your health insurance. Get help from an experienced agent who can explain your options in detail.
The SGR was the subject of possible reform legislation again in 2014. On March 14, 2014, the United States House of Representatives passed the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4015; 113th Congress), a bill that would have replaced the (SGR) formula with new systems for establishing those payment rates. However, the bill would pay for these changes by delaying the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate requirement, a proposal that was very unpopular with Democrats. The SGR was expected to cause Medicare reimbursement cuts of 24 percent on April 1, 2014, if a solution to reform or delay the SGR was not found. This led to another bill, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302; 113th Congress), which would delay those cuts until March 2015. This bill was also controversial. The American Medical Association and other medical groups opposed it, asking Congress to provide a permanent solution instead of just another delay.
Since 1997, Medicare enrollees have had the option of going beyond their Original Medicare coverage by enrolling in Medicare Advantage. As of 2017, there were a record 19 million people enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, accounting for about 33 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage has been steadily growing since 2004. Managed care programs administered by private health insurers have been available to Medicare beneficiaries since the 1970s, but these programs have grown significantly since the Balanced Budget Act – signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1997 – created the Medicare+Choice program.The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 changed the name to Medicare Advantage, but the concept is still the same: beneficiaries receive their Medicare benefits through a private health insurance plan, and the health insurance carrier receives payments from the Medicare program to cover beneficiaries’ medical costs.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has restructured payments to Medicare Advantage plans in an effort to reduce budget spending on Medicare, but for the last few years the payment changes have either been delayed or offset by payment increases. When the law was first passed, many people – including the CBO – projected that Medicare Advantage enrollment would drop considerably over the coming years as payment reductions forced plans to offer fewer benefits, higher out-of-pocket costs, and narrower networks.
Medicare prescription drug coverage — called Medicare Part D — was the result of legislation passed in 2003 and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. It is a bit of a controversial program because it was an unfunded liability — meaning that the vast majority of costs fell on taxpayers — and the law also barred Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices with drug makers. But by the end of its first decade, Medicare Part D was providing coverage for almost three quarters of all eligible Medicare beneficiaries, including those who have Part D coverage as part of their Medicare Advantage plan).
When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.