A 2001 study by the Government Accountability Office evaluated the quality of responses given by Medicare contractor customer service representatives to provider (physician) questions. The evaluators assembled a list of questions, which they asked during a random sampling of calls to Medicare contractors. The rate of complete, accurate information provided by Medicare customer service representatives was 15%. Since then, steps have been taken to improve the quality of customer service given by Medicare contractors, specifically the 1-800-MEDICARE contractor. As a result, 1-800-MEDICARE customer service representatives (CSR) have seen an increase in training, quality assurance monitoring has significantly increased, and a customer satisfaction survey is offered to random callers.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Don't make a decision on your choice of Part D Medicare plans based on the premium and deductible alone. It's critical that you verify that your medications are covered. You find this information, and the co-payment tiers, in the formulary. On each PDP page (above) we post links to the formulary and pharmacy web pages, and the phone numbers to contact the plan.
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) - Part A helps cover inpatient care in hospitals, including critical access hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities (not custodial or long-term care). It also helps cover hospice care and some home health care. Beneficiaries must meet certain conditions to get these benefits. Most people don't pay a premium for Part A because they or a spouse already paid for it through their payroll taxes while working.