Before 2003 Part C plans tended to be suburban HMOs tied to major nearby teaching hospitals that cost the government the same as or even 5% less on average than it cost to cover the medical needs of a comparable beneficiary on Original Medicare. The 2003-law payment framework/bidding/rebate formulas overcompensated some Part C plans by 7 percent (2009) on average nationally compared to what Original Medicare beneficiaries cost per person on average nationally that year and as much as 5 percent (2016) less nationally in other years (see any recent year's Medicare Trustees Report, Table II.B.1). The MedPAC group found in one year the comparative difference for "like beneficiaries" (not all beneficiaries as described in the first sentence) was as high as 14% and have tended to average about 2% higher. The word like in the previous sentence is key. The intention of both the 1997 and 2003 law was that the differences between fee for service and capitated fee beneficiaries would reach parity over time.
OptumRx is an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company. You are not required to use OptumRx home delivery for a 90-day supply of your maintenance medication. $0 copay may be restricted to particular tiers, preferred medications, or mail order prescriptions during the initial coverage phase and may not apply during the coverage gap or catastrophic stage.
One convenient way for children and youth to access needed services is through school-based health centers (SBHCs). These centers, whether located on school property or in the vicinity of a school, offer a range of services to underserved or uninsured students, such as primary medical care, mental or behavioral health care, dental care, substance abuse services, and health and nutrition education. More than 2,300 SBHCs operate nationwide (4). These centers have become a key part of the health care delivery system, as children and youth spend a significant amount of time at school, and barriers such as transportation and scheduling are reduced. SBHCs can lead to improved access to medical and dental care, health outcomes, and school performance (5, 6). They also reduce emergency room visits and health care costs (5, 6).
With Medicare Advantage plans, the essential Medicare Part A and Part B benefits – except hospice services – are automatically covered. (If you need hospice services, that’s covered under Original Medicare, even if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.) Advantage plans also cover urgent and emergency care services, and in many cases, the private plans cover vision, hearing, health and wellness programs and dental coverage.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote in 2008 that "future growth in spending per beneficiary for Medicare and Medicaid—the federal government's major health care programs—will be the most important determinant of long-term trends in federal spending. Changing those programs in ways that reduce the growth of costs—which will be difficult, in part because of the complexity of health policy choices—is ultimately the nation's central long-term challenge in setting federal fiscal policy."
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.
The Annual Election Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. You can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan at this time, and make other coverage changes. If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch plans, in most cases a good time to do so is during the Annual Election Period. When you change Medicare plans during the Annual Election Period, your new coverage generally begins on January 1 of the following year.
You might wonder why a beneficiary would choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. A Medicare Advantage plan is required to cover everything that Original Medicare covers (except for hospice care), including emergency and urgent care. Hospice care is covered by Original Medicare, and hospice benefits continue to be covered by Original Medicare even if you have a Medicare Advantage plan. But, there can be some differences between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan. Those differences can be in how much you pay out of your own pocket when you receive health care. For example, you might have lower copayments and coinsurance or a smaller deductible.
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.