There are other proposals for savings on prescription drugs that do not require such fundamental changes to Medicare Part D's payment and coverage policies. Manufacturers who supply drugs to Medicaid are required to offer a 15 percent rebate on the average manufacturer's price. Low-income elderly individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid receive drug coverage through Medicare Part D, and no reimbursement is paid for the drugs the government purchases for them. Reinstating that rebate would yield savings of $112 billion, according to a recent CBO estimate.[138]
As with all HMOs—no matter whether a person is on Medicare or not—persons who enroll in a Medicare Advantage or other Part C HMO cannot use certain specialist physicians or out-of-network providers without prior authorization from the HMO, except in emergencies. In almost all Medicare Advantage plans—HMO or otherwise—the beneficiary must choose a primary care physician (PCP) to provide referrals and the beneficiary must confirm that the plan authorizes the visit to which the beneficiary was referred by the PCP. As with all HMOs, this can be a problem for people who want to use out-of -network specialists or who are hospitalized and are forced to use out-of-network doctors while hospitalized. Many Medicare Advantage PPO plans permit a subscriber to use any physician or hospital without prior authorization, but at a somewhat higher expense.
As a result, an estimated 320,000 Medicare Cost enrollees in Minnesota need new coverage for 2019. There are 21 counties where Medicare Cost plans will continue to be available, but Medicare Cost enrollees in the remaining counties cannot keep their Cost plans. Instead, they can either enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (some will be automatically enrollees in a comparable Medicare Advantage plan, although they’ll have an option to pick something else instead), or select a Medigap plan to supplement their Original Medicare (enrollees whose Medicare Cost plans are ending have guaranteed issue rights to a Medigap plan, so they can purchase one even if they have pre-existing medical conditions).

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).
It is extremely important to evaluate all options when making a decision about Medigap plans in Minnesota. In Minnesota, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are available throughout the state as either a Medigap Basic plan or Medigap Extended Basic plan. However, the costs may be different based on which insurance carrier offers the plans. Those who wish to enroll in a Minnesota Medicare Supplement Insurance plan should thoroughly evaluate all available plans and make a determination based on personal health needs and budget.
The highest penalties on hospitals are charged after knee or hip replacements, $265,000 per excess readmission.[31] The goals are to encourage better post-hospital care and more referrals to hospice and end-of-life care in lieu of treatment,[32][33] while the effect is also to reduce coverage in hospitals that treat poor and frail patients.[34][35] The total penalties for above-average readmissions in 2013 are $280 million,[36] for 7,000 excess readmissions, or $40,000 for each readmission above the US average rate.[37]

Hospice benefits are also provided under Part A of Medicare for terminally ill persons with less than six months to live, as determined by the patient's physician. The terminally ill person must sign a statement that hospice care has been chosen over other Medicare-covered benefits, (e.g. assisted living or hospital care).[38] Treatment provided includes pharmaceutical products for symptom control and pain relief as well as other services not otherwise covered by Medicare such as grief counseling. Hospice is covered 100% with no co-pay or deductible by Medicare Part A except that patients are responsible for a copay for outpatient drugs and respite care, if needed.[39]
Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in January 2014. With the implementation of the ACA, many of the participants in Healthy San Francisco became newly eligible for insurance through Medi-Cal Expansion starting January 2014, resulting in an 83 percent caseload increase within two years. The Human Services Agency (HSA) aims to further increase enrollment through outreach to the estimated 10,000 low-income San Franciscans who do not have health insurance.
Congress also attempted to reduce payments to public Part C Medicare health plans by aligning the rules that establish Part C plans' capitated fees more closely with the FFS paid for comparable care to "similar beneficiaries" under Parts A and B of Medicare. Primarily these reductions involved much discretion on the part of CMS and examples of what CMS did included effectively ending a Part C program Congress had previously initiated to increase the use of Part C in rural areas (the so-called Part C PFFS plan) and reducing over time a program that encouraged employers and unions to create their own Part C plans not available to the general Medicare beneficiary base (so-called Part C EGWP plans) by providing higher reimbursement. These two types of Part C plans had been identified by MedPAC as the programs that most negatively affected parity between the cost of Medicare beneficiaries on Parts A/B/C and the costs of beneficiaries not on Parts A/B/C. These efforts to reach parity have been more than successful. As of 2015, all beneficiaries on A/B/C cost 4% less per person than all beneficiaries not on A/B/C. But whether that is because the cost of the former decreased or the cost of the latter increased is not known.

If you’re ready to start browsing plan options, eHealth’s Medicare plan comparison tool may be useful. You can find Medicare plan options based on location, insurance company, premium cost, and more. Our plan finder tool is a convenient way for you to compare plan details side-by-side to ensure that the most important aspects of your health-care needs are covered.
Medicare is not generally an unearned entitlement. Entitlement is most commonly based on a record of contributions to the Medicare fund. As such it is a form of social insurance making it feasible for people to pay for insurance for sickness in old age when they are young and able to work and be assured of getting back benefits when they are older and no longer working. Some people will pay in more than they receive back and others will receive more benefits than they paid in. Unlike private insurance where some amount must be paid to attain coverage, all eligible persons can receive coverage regardless of how much or if they had ever paid in.
Medicare Advantage is a type of health insurance that provides coverage within Part C of Medicare in the United States. Medicare Advantage plans pay for managed health care based on a monthly fee per enrollee (capitation), rather than on the basis of billing for each medical service provided (fee-for-service, FFS) for unmanaged healthcare services. Most such plans are health maintenance organizations (HMOs) or preferred provider organizations (PPOs). Medicare Advantage plans finance at a minimum the same medical services as "Original Medicare" Parts A and B Medicare finance via fee-for-service. Part C plans, including Medicare Advantage plans, also typically finance additional services, including additional health services, and most importantly include an annual out of pocket (OOP) spend limit not included in Parts A and B. A Medicare Advantage beneficiary must first sign up for both Part A and Part B of Medicare.
Of the Medicare beneficiaries who are not dual eligible for both Medicare (around 20%) and Medicaid or that do not receive supplemental insurance via a former employer (40%) or a public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan (about 30%), almost all elect to purchase a type of private supplemental insurance coverage, called a Medigap plan (20%), to help fill in the financial holes in Original Medicare (Part A and B). Note that the percentages add up to over 100% because many beneficiaries have more than one type of supplement. These Medigap insurance policies are standardized by CMS, but are sold and administered by private companies. Some Medigap policies sold before 2006 may include coverage for prescription drugs. Medigap policies sold after the introduction of Medicare Part D on January 1, 2006 are prohibited from covering drugs. Medicare regulations prohibit a Medicare beneficiary from being sold both a public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan and a private Medigap Policy. As with public Part C health plans, private Medigap policies are only available to beneficiaries who are already signed up for benefits from Original Medicare Part A and Part B. These policies are regulated by state insurance departments rather than the federal government though CMS outlines what the various Medigap plans must cover at a minimum. Therefore, the types and prices of Medigap policies vary widely from state to state and the degree of underwriting, open enrollment and guaranteed issue also varies widely from state to state.
During Open Enrollment, you may enroll your domestic partner, and your partner’s eligible dependents, in health and welfare benefits that are open for enrollment as long as the relationship meets established criteria. If you would like to enroll your newly-eligible domestic partner in Life and/or Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, or increase your own Life coverage, you will have a Period of Initial Enrollment from Jan. 1-31, 2019. See your benefits portal for details.

Private insurance companies must have contracts with Medicare to offer Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. Depending on the terms of the contract between the plan and Medicare, not every plan is available statewide or in all service areas. Each year, the plan must renew its contract with Medicare, so the availability of a plan in a specific service area is subject to change.


Remember, you still have Medicare if you enroll in an MA Plan. This means that you likely pay a monthly premium for Part B (and a Part A premium, if you have one). If you are enrolled in an MA Plan, you should receive the same benefits offered by Original Medicare. Keep in mind that your MA Plan may apply different rules, costs, and restrictions, which can affect how and when you receive care. They may also offer certain benefits that Medicare does not cover, such as dental and vision care.
Public Part C Medicare Advantage and other Part C health plans are required to offer coverage that meets or exceeds the standards set by Original Medicare but they do not have to cover every benefit in the same way. After approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, if a Part C plan chooses to pay less than Original Medicare for some benefits, such as Skilled Nursing Facility care, the savings may be passed along to consumers by offering even lower co-payments for doctor visits.

If you’re looking for a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan (that is, a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage), you might want to make sure it covers the prescriptions you take. Each Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan has its own formulary (list of covered prescription drugs). The formulary may change at any time; you will receive notice from your plan when necessary.


If you’re eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a “general enrollment period” from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll. Read our Medicare publication for more information.
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