Even when you enroll in Medicare, your out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, co-insurance and co-pays can be significant. This is especially true in Minnesota where health insurance premiums vary based on location and population density. It is important to consider options that can help reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Medicare supplements (also known as Medigap), Medicare managed-care style health plans (Advantage and Cost plans) and Part D plans can provide you the coverage and protection you may need. These additional plans must be approved by the Minnesota Department of Insurance, so you can rest assured that all plans meet the established criteria.

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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.

Part A's inpatient admitted hospital and skilled nursing coverage is largely funded by revenue from a 2.9% payroll tax levied on employers and workers (each pay 1.45%). Until December 31, 1993, the law provided a maximum amount of compensation on which the Medicare tax could be imposed annually, in the same way that the Social Security tax works in the US.[17] Beginning on January 1, 1994, the compensation limit was removed. Self-employed individuals must pay the entire 2.9% tax on self-employed net earnings (because they are both employee and employer), but they may deduct half of the tax from the income in calculating income tax.[18] Beginning in 2013, the rate of Part A tax on earned income exceeding US$200,000 for individuals (US$250,000 for married couples filing jointly) rose to 3.8%, in order to pay part of the cost of the subsidies mandated by the Affordable Care Act.[19]
If you are a Minnesota beneficiary and considering enrollment in a Medicare Advantage plan, it is important to compare and evaluate the Medicare plan options available to you. While similar Medicare Advantage plans may be offered throughout the state, the cost for premiums may vary depending on your county of residence. You should also take note that some Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota may offer monthly premiums as low as $0. If your service area offers a Medicare Advantage plan with a $0 premium, keep in mind that the plan may still include other costs besides the premium, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. In addition, you must still pay your Medicare Part B premium.
If you enroll within 30 days following your 65th birthday, or if you have 6 months of continuous prior coverage, the 6-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions will be waived. Pre-existing conditions are conditions for which medical advice was given, or treatment was recommended by or received from a physician within six months before the effective date of coverage. If you wait until after the deadline to enroll, you may have a waiting period for pre-existing conditions and may have to complete a medical questionnaire.
Popular opinion surveys show that the public views Medicare's problems as serious, but not as urgent as other concerns. In January 2006, the Pew Research Center found 62 percent of the public said addressing Medicare's financial problems should be a high priority for the government, but that still put it behind other priorities.[90] Surveys suggest that there's no public consensus behind any specific strategy to keep the program solvent.[91]
More limited income-relation of premiums only raises limited revenue. Currently, only 5 percent of Medicare enrollees pay an income-related premium, and most only pay 35 percent of their total premium, compared to the 25 percent most people pay. Only a negligible number of enrollees fall into the higher income brackets required to bear a more substantial share of their costs—roughly half a percent of individuals and less than three percent of married couples currently pay more than 35 percent of their total Part B costs.[152]
It’s up to you to determine which type of coverage is the right option. It’s important to read all of the details of each Medicare Advantage plan, including the fine print, and compare the different benefits, costs, and restrictions of each plan option available in your area. If you have a specific doctor or hospital that you want to use, be sure to check that they’re included in the network of the Medicare Advantage plan that you’re interested in.
Applicants who are about to sign up for Medicare in MN first need to be aware of the different enrollment periods. The first is the initial enrollment period for Medicare. Applicants who want to fill out this Minnesota Medicare enrollment application can actually do so before they turn 65. Initial enrollment officially begins three months before the applicant has turned 65. Those who are eligible for Medicare will receive a notification in the mail shortly before the initial enrollment period begins. This letter will state if they are eligible for automatic enrollment, or if they have to manually fill out a Medicare application in MN. The initial enrollment continues for a period of four months after an applicant turns 65. The month of their birthday is counted as the fourth month, effectively giving applicants a period of seven months to apply for Medicare in the initial enrollment period.
If you have coverage through your employer, the company will probably offer you coverage again in 2018. Talk to your Human Resources department or benefits administrator to learn about what you need to do. If your employer is not offering coverage, you will have to buy a plan on your own to avoid paying a penalty. Learn more about how to compare health insurance plans using our guide.
A “Welcome to Medicare” packet is mailed out a few months before you turn 65. If you are not yet 65 but receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, or receive certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, then you become eligible for Medicare as soon as you enter into the 25th straight month of receiving those benefits.
Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are one way for beneficiaries to receive their Medicare benefits. These plans are required to offer everything that’s covered under Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, with the exception of hospice care, and may include other benefits as well, such as prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision.
The CBO projected that raising the age of Medicare eligibility would save $113 billion over 10 years after accounting for the necessary expansion of Medicaid and state health insurance exchange subsidies under health care reform, which are needed to help those who could not afford insurance purchase it.[133] The Kaiser Family Foundation found that raising the age of eligibility would save the federal government $5.7 billion a year, while raising costs for other payers. According to Kaiser, raising the age would cost $3.7 billion to 65- and 66-year-olds, $2.8 billion to other consumers whose premiums would rise as insurance pools absorbed more risk, $4.5 billion to employers offering insurance, and $0.7 billion to states expanding their Medicaid rolls. Ultimately Kaiser found that the plan would raise total social costs by more than twice the savings to the federal government.[134]

In the same year, an estimated 42% of California children and youth ages 0-21 had Medicaid (Medi-Cal), CHIP, or other means-tested public health insurance coverage, with enrollment estimates highest for infants (47%) and lowest for young adults ages 18-21 (31%). Statewide, coverage for African American/black and Hispanic/Latino groups was higher than 50% in 2016, whereas estimates for Asian/Pacific Islander and white children/youth were lower than 28%. In the 2016 federal fiscal year, total yearly enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP among California children ages 0-17 was 720 per 1,000, more than 20% higher than the national rate of 590 per 1,000.

You can enroll in Medicare as soon as you meet the eligibility requirements. In Minnesota, you are allowed to enroll in Original Medicare three months before you turn 65 years of age, even if you are not retired or collecting benefits from Social Security. Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration usually enrolls you automatically in Original Medicare when you request Social Security benefits at age 65. It is advisable to postpone enrolling in Medicare Part B if you, or your spouse, have coverage through an employer or union. This will save you from paying Part B premiums while you have coverage. However, if you are eligible and choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B (even though you do not have coverage from a current employer), you will have to pay a ten percent penalty for each year that your enrollment is delayed.


In the 1970s, less than a decade after the beginning of fee for service Medicare, Medicare beneficiaries gained the option to receive their Medicare benefits through managed, capitated health plans, mainly HMOs, as an alternative to FFS Original Medicare, but only under random Medicare demonstration programs. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 formalized the demonstration programs into Medicare Part C, introduced the term Medicare+Choice as a pseudo-brand for this option. Initially, fewer insurers participated than expected, leading to little competition.[2] In a 2003 law, the capitated-fee benchmark/bidding process was changed effective in 2005 to increase insurer participation, but also increasing the costs per person of the program.
Medicare has four parts: Part A is Hospital Insurance. Part B is Medical Insurance. Medicare Part D covers many prescription drugs, though some are covered by Part B. In general, the distinction is based on whether or not the drugs are self-administered. Part C health plans, the most popular of which are branded Medicare Advantage, are another way for Original Medicare (Part A and B) beneficiaries to receive their Part A, B and D benefits. All Medicare benefits are subject to medical necessity.
For doctors and medical procedures (Part B) at the hospital and at home: You would pay 20% of all costs after meeting your $147 deductible. Unlike many other health insurance policies, there is no cap or maximum out-of-pocket amount on what you could owe. The American Heart Association says that the average cost of heart surgery is $62,509 – in that case, your Part B copay would be over $12,000. 
You will pay one-fourth of the cost-sharing of some covered services until you reach the annual out-of-pocket limit of $2620 each calendar year. However, this limit does NOT include charges from your provider that exceed Medicare- approved amounts (these are called “Excess Charges”) and you will be responsible for paying this difference in the amount charged by your provider and the amount paid by Medicare for the item or service.

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.

The most significant change to the Medicare program, since its enactment in 1965, began on Jan. 1, 2006. Medicare now has a prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D). In the fall of each year, all Minnesotans with Medicare receive information about the Medicare Part D program and the Annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. Agencies, organizations and people that work with Minnesotans with Medicare will want to be kept apprised of the latest Part D information and its effect on Minnesotans with Medicare.

Medicare Part D is optional prescription drug coverage. If you have Original Medicare, you can get this coverage through a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, offered through private Medicare-approved insurance companies. These plans offer stand-alone prescription drug coverage that work alongside Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. A Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan also provides the Medicare Part D benefit, covering all Medicare benefits under a single plan.
Before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, it’s a good idea to check that the formulary includes your prescription medications; the formulary is a list of prescription medications covered by the plan. Formularies vary by plan, and not every medication is covered by every Medicare plan, so it’s important to double check. Keep in mind that formularies are subject to change. The formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.
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.

In December 2011, Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Oreg.) jointly proposed a new premium support system. Unlike Ryan's original plan, this new system would maintain traditional Medicare as an option, and the premium support would not be tied to inflation.[128] The spending targets in the Ryan-Wyden plan are the same as the targets included in the Affordable Care Act; it is unclear whether the plan would reduce Medicare expenditure relative to current law.[129]
Medicare Advantage offers health benefits for Medicare beneficiaries through private plans instead of through Original — or traditional — Medicare (the federal government’s fee-for-service program). These plans are one option for consumers who desire additional benefits beyond what Original Medicare offers, but are not considered a wise option by some consumers who are concerned that government spends more per enrollee on the private plans than it does on Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are available with no premium other than the cost of Part B, but they also have provider networks that are more limited than Original Medicare, and total out-of-pocket costs can be considerably higher than enrollees would pay if they had Original Medicare plus a Part D plan plus Medigap.
Part A Late Enrollment Penalty If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, and you don't buy a premium-based Part A when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You must pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn't sign-up. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for 2 years but didn't sign-up, you must pay the higher premium for 4 years. Usually, you don't have to pay a penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part A during a Special Enrollment Period.
That’s what the Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) program is all about: it gives you an alternative way to receive your Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) coverage (everything except hospice care, which Part A still covers). Some Medicare Advantage plans include additional benefits as well – prescription drug coverage, for example, or routine dental services and/or fitness programs. These are just a few examples of additional benefits that some Medicare Advantage plans offer – benefits not included in Original Medicare.
California's Medicaid program Medi-Cal is a public health insurance program that provides free or low-cost health care coverage to low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, single adults and low income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. Medi-Cal pays for medical visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, pregnancy-related treatment, dental and eye care, and other medical services for individuals who do not have healthcare coverage.
Medicare Advantage plans, also referred to as Part C plans, are part of the Medicare program for senior citizens and disabled adults who qualify. Private companies provide Medicare Advantage plans instead of the federal government, and these plans typically include the same Part A hospital, Part B medical coverage and Part D drug coverage that Medicare does, with the exception of hospice care. As of 2017, about one third of the 57 million Medicare participants were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.
The PPACA instituted a number of measures to control Medicare fraud and abuse, such as longer oversight periods, provider screenings, stronger standards for certain providers, the creation of databases to share data between federal and state agencies, and stiffer penalties for violators. The law also created mechanisms, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to fund experiments to identify new payment and delivery models that could conceivably be expanded to reduce the cost of health care while improving quality.[87]

Once you submit your application, it will be sent to your local county human services agency for a determination if you seem likely to qualify for Medi-Cal. If more information is needed, the county will contact you. During the next 45 days, the county will mail you a notice telling you if you qualify for Medi-Cal. If you are eligible, you will receive a Medi-Cal benefits identification card (BIC) in the mail (if you do not already have one). You will also receive an informational packet in the mail that explains the available Medi-Cal health plan options in your county and how to enroll.

Medicare co-pays in Minnesota refer to how much a beneficiary has to pay for certain services. The co-pay is always a set price, no matter how much the service actually cost. Each Medicare plan will have different co-pays, both in terms of payment as well as what Medicare covered services actually requires as a co-pay. A deductible is how much a beneficiary has to pay before their Medicare coverage kicks in. With Medicare Part A and B coverage in MN, the deductible is around $160.
For each person who chooses to enroll in a Part C Medicare Advantage or other Part C plan, Medicare pays the health plan a set amount every month ("capitation"). The capitated fee associated with a Medicare Advantage plan is specific to each county in the United States and is primarily driven by a government-administered benchmark/bidding process that uses that county's average per-beneficiary FFS costs from a previous year as a starting point to determine the benchmark.
Final decisions haven’t been made on exactly which counties in Minnesota will lose Cost plans next year, the government said. But based on current figures, insurance companies expect that Cost plans are going away in 66 counties across the state including those in the Twin Cities metro. They are expected to continue in 21 counties, carriers said, plus North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

There are two ways for providers to be reimbursed in Medicare. "Participating" providers accept "assignment," which means that they accept Medicare's approved rate for their services as payment (typically 80% from Medicare and 20% from the beneficiary). Some non participating doctors do not take assignment, but they also treat Medicare enrollees and are authorized to balance bill no more than a small fixed amount above Medicare's approved rate. A minority of doctors are "private contractors," which means they opt out of Medicare and refuse to accept Medicare payments altogether. These doctors are required to inform patients that they will be liable for the full cost of their services out-of-pocket in advance of treatment.[60]
Most Medicare Part B enrollees pay an insurance premium for this coverage; the standard Part B premium for 2013 through 2015 was $104.90 – $335.70 per month. The premium increased to over $120 a month in 2016 but only for those not on Social Security in 2015. A new income-based premium surtax schema has been in effect since 2007, wherein Part B premiums are higher for beneficiaries with incomes exceeding $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for married couples. Depending on the extent to which beneficiary earnings exceed the base income, these higher Part B premiums are $139.90, $199.80, $259.70, or $319.70 for 2012, with the highest premium paid by individuals earning more than $214,000, or married couples earning more than $428,000.[49]

Medicare Part C in Minnesota offers the same coverage as Medicare Part A and B. The reason that applicants might want Medicare Part C over any of the other plans is because it comes from a private insurance company. Applicants have more freedom in pricing, since they can shop with multiple providers. Certain plans might have more appealing payments, such as lower premiums or offering more appealing co-pays on specific services.
The PPACA also made some changes to Medicare enrollee's' benefits. By 2020, it will close the so-called "donut hole" between Part D plans' coverage limits and the catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket spending, reducing a Part D enrollee's' exposure to the cost of prescription drugs by an average of $2,000 a year.[114] This lowered costs for about 5% of the people on Medicare. Limits were also placed on out-of-pocket costs for in-network care for public Part C health plan enrollees.[115] Most of these plans had such a limit but ACA formalized the annual out of pocket spend limit. Beneficiaries on traditional Medicare do not get such a limit but can effectively arrange for one through private insurance.
Now that you have an idea of the type of Medicare plan options for Minnesotans, would you like some assistance looking for a plan that fits? I’d be happy to help, and you can click on the “View profile” link below to view my profile if you’d like. How about setting up a phone call with me, or having me send you some information by email? You can click on the links below to do that. Some folks prefer to research plans on their own; you can do that easily by clicking on the Compare Plans option on the right.
Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in the plan depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company pays royalty fees to AARP for use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. AARP and its affiliates are not insurers. You do not need to be an AARP member to enroll.
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 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 made several changes to physician payments under Medicare. Firstly, it introduced the Medicare Fee Schedule, which took effect in 1992. Secondly, it limited the amount Medicare non-providers could balance bill Medicare beneficiaries. Thirdly, it introduced the Medicare Volume Performance Standards (MVPS) as a way to control costs.[53]
Indeed, the Democrats' commitment to government-run health care is all the more menacing to our seniors and our economy when paired with some Democrats' absolute commitment to end enforcement of our immigration laws by abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means millions more would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of health care paid for by American taxpayers.
A: In 2017, most Medicare beneficiaries can choose from a variety of plans from at least six insurance companies. The plans may have different provider networks, cover different drugs at different pharmacies, and can charge different monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and copayments or coinsurance for hospital and nursing home stays, and other services.  — Read Full Answer
If you live in the designated service area of the specific plan, and already have Part A and Part B, you may join a Medicare Advantage plan (note that there are some rural areas of the country where no Medicare Advantage plans are available). If you have union or employer-sponsored insurance, you may be able to add an Advantage plan, but be forewarned that in some cases you may lose your employer or union coverage when you enroll in an Advantage plan.
The Chief Actuary of the CMS must provide accounting information and cost-projections to the Medicare Board of Trustees to assist them in assessing the program's financial health. The Board is required by law to issue annual reports on the financial status of the Medicare Trust Funds, and those reports are required to contain a statement of actuarial opinion by the Chief Actuary.[14][15]
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