Since the mid-1990s, there have been a number of proposals to change Medicare from a publicly run social insurance program with a defined benefit, for which there is no limit to the government's expenses, into a program that offers "premium support" for enrollees.[118][119] The basic concept behind the proposals is that the government would make a defined contribution, that is a premium support, to the health plan of a Medicare enrollee's choice. Insurers would compete to provide Medicare benefits and this competition would set the level of fixed contribution. Additionally, enrollees would be able to purchase greater coverage by paying more in addition to the fixed government contribution. Conversely, enrollees could choose lower cost coverage and keep the difference between their coverage costs and the fixed government contribution.[120][121] The goal of premium Medicare plans is for greater cost-effectiveness; if such a proposal worked as planned, the financial incentive would be greatest for Medicare plans that offer the best care at the lowest cost.[118][121]

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.
Part B Late Enrollment Penalty If you don't sign up for Part B when you're first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn't sign up for it. Usually, you don't pay a late enrollment penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part B during a special enrollment period.[71]
Robert M. Ball, a former commissioner of Social Security under President Kennedy in 1961 (and later under Johnson, and Nixon) defined the major obstacle to financing health insurance for the elderly: the high cost of care for the aged combined with the generally low incomes of retired people. Because retired older people use much more medical care than younger employed people, an insurance premium related to the risk for older people needed to be high, but if the high premium had to be paid after retirement, when incomes are low, it was an almost impossible burden for the average person. The only feasible approach, he said, was to finance health insurance in the same way as cash benefits for retirement, by contributions paid while at work, when the payments are least burdensome, with the protection furnished in retirement without further payment.[96] In the early 1960s relatively few of the elderly had health insurance, and what they had was usually inadequate. Insurers such as Blue Cross, which had originally applied the principle of community rating, faced competition from other commercial insurers that did not community rate, and so were forced to raise their rates for the elderly.[97]
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.
As of January 1, 2016, Medicare's unfunded obligation over the 75 year timeframe is $3.8 trillion for the Part A Trust Fund and $28.6 trillion for Part B. Over an infinite timeframe the combined unfunded liability for both programs combined is over $50 trillion, with the difference primarily in the Part B estimate.[85][89] These estimates assume that CMS will pay full benefits as currently specified over those periods though that would be contrary to current United States law. In addition, as discussed throughout each annual Trustees' report, "the Medicare projections shown could be substantially understated as a result of other potentially unsustainable elements of current law." For example, current law effectively provides no raises for doctors after 2025; that is unlikely to happen. It is impossible for actuaries to estimate unfunded liability other than assuming current law is followed (except relative to benefits as noted), the Trustees state "that actual long-range present values for (Part A) expenditures and (Part B/D) expenditures and revenues could exceed the amounts estimated by a substantial margin."
In total spending on Medicare, Minnesota ranked #25 in 2009, with $6.9 billion per year. With the largest and smallest numbers of recipients, itʼs no surprise that California accounted for $50.6 billion of overall Medicare spending, while Medicare spent only $553 million in Alaska. Total Medicare spending for all states and the District of Columbia was $471 billion in 2009 (latest available data).

Some people don’t realize this and join Medicare Advantage plans without the help of an agent. Therefore they  don’t know about all of these rules. Sometimes they find themselves enrolled into a plan that their doctor doesn’t accept or that doesn’t include one of their medications. This happens most often in January after a person has used the Annual Election Period to join a Medicare Advantage plan.
Roughly nine million Americans—mostly older adults with low incomes—are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These men and women tend to have particularly poor health – more than half are being treated for five or more chronic conditions[139]—and high costs. Average annual per-capita spending for "dual-eligibles" is $20,000,[140] compared to $10,900 for the Medicare population as a whole all enrollees.[141]
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administers Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), and parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ("Obamacare").[13] Along with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, the CMS also implements the insurance reform provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and most aspects of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as amended. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for determining Medicare eligibility, eligibility for and payment of Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy payments related to Part D Medicare, and collecting some premium payments for the Medicare program.
There are several types of Medicare Advantage plans, such as Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)* plans, Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS) plans, and Special Needs Plans (SNPs). Other Medicare Part Advantage plan options include HMO Point-Of-Service (HMO POS) plans and Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans. Depending on where you live, you might not find every type of plan available to you.

Blue Cross plans on sending letters in early July notifying about 200,000 subscribers who stand to lose their Medicare Cost plans. Minnetonka-based Medica, which started sending letters last week, expects that about 66,000 members will need to select a new plan. Officials with Bloomington-based HealthPartners say the insurer sent letters to about 34,000 enrollees this month explaining the change.
If you don’t want to renew your current health insurance plan, you can choose a new plan for 2018. Medical Mutual and other insurers offer a number of subsidy-eligible and non-subsidy-eligible health plans for you to consider.  If you are eligible for a federal subsidy, you can also shop for plans on the public Marketplace. You can also enroll in a plan directly through Medical Mutual.
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.
ACA provided bonus payments to plans with ratings of 4 (out of 5) stars or more. The Obama administration launched an $8.35 billion demonstration project in 2012 that increased the size of the bonus payments and increased the number of plans receiving bonus payments, providing bonus payments to the majority of Medicare Advantage plans.[6] According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this demonstration project cost more than the previous 85 demonstration projects beginning in 1995 combined.[7]
Retirement of the Baby Boom generation — which by 2030 is projected to increase enrollment to more than 80 million as the number of workers per enrollee declines from 3.7 to 2.4 — and rising overall health care costs in the nation pose substantial financial challenges to the program. Medicare spending is projected to increase from $523 billion in 2010 to just over $1 trillion by 2022.[20] Baby-boomers' health is also an important factor: 20% have five or more chronic conditions, which will add to the future cost of health care. In response to these financial challenges, Congress made substantial cuts to future payouts to providers as part of PPACA in 2010 and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and policymakers have offered many additional competing proposals to reduce Medicare costs further.

Put your red, white and blue Medicare card in a safe place. Do not give it to any of your healthcare providers. If they bill Medicare, those bills will be rejected. You must direct your providers to bill your Medicare Advantage plan. People who enroll in Advantage plans for Medicare are agreeing, for the rest of the calendar year, to be covered by the plan instead of Original Medicare.
School health centers provide access to health care for many children. In 2018, California had 258 school health centers, up from 153 in 2009. However, nearly half of the state's counties (27 of 58) did not have any school health centers in 2018. When asked whether their school provides adequate health services for students, 23% of responses from elementary school staff, 20% of responses by middle school staff, 19% of responses by high school staff, and 25% of responses by staff at non-traditional schools reported strong agreement in 2013-2015.
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.[56] 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.[57] 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.[58] 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.[58] 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.[59]
Unlike Original Medicare, if you want prescription drug benefits (Medicare Part D), you shouldn’t enroll in a separate Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Instead, you can get this benefit through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. Not every Medicare Advantage plan includes prescription drug coverage, so always double-check with the specific plan you’re considering.
Most Medicare enrollees do not pay a monthly Part A premium, because they (or a spouse) have had 40 or more 3-month quarters in which they paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes. The benefit is the same no matter how much or how little the beneficiary paid as long as the minimum number of quarters is reached. Medicare-eligible persons who do not have 40 or more quarters of Medicare-covered employment may buy into Part A for an annual adjusted monthly premium of:

If you change your mind and want to switch back to Original Medicare in the future, you’ll be able to do so during the annual open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7) or the annual Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (January 1 to March 31, annually starting in 2019), and you’ll have an opportunity to also enroll in a Medicare D plan at that point, regardless of how long you’ve been enrolled in Medicare Advantage. But if you’ve been on the Medicare Advantage plan for more than a year, there is no requirement that Medigap plans be guaranteed issue for people switching back from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, so if you’ve got health conditions, it may be expensive or impossible to get another Medigap plan.


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).
Minnesota Medicare Part D is specifically for prescription drug coverage. It has something unique to it called the coverage gap. The coverage gap works similar to a deductible. Beneficiaries have to pay a certain amount determined by the coverage gap before they can get discounted prices. How large the discount, and what prescription drugs it applies to, is determined by the private insurance provider.

For institutional care, such as hospital and nursing home care, Medicare uses prospective payment systems. In a prospective payment system, the health care institution receives a set amount of money for each episode of care provided to a patient, regardless of the actual amount of care. The actual allotment of funds is based on a list of diagnosis-related groups (DRG). The actual amount depends on the primary diagnosis that is actually made at the hospital. There are some issues surrounding Medicare's use of DRGs because if the patient uses less care, the hospital gets to keep the remainder. This, in theory, should balance the costs for the hospital. However, if the patient uses more care, then the hospital has to cover its own losses. This results in the issue of "upcoding," when a physician makes a more severe diagnosis to hedge against accidental costs.[52]


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.

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.
Some applicants might be able to apply during a special enrollment period. A special enrollment period applies to any applicants who did not register for Medicare in MN because they previously had insurance from some other source, such as a job or a spouse. If they end up unexpectedly losing that other insurance source, they are able to appeal for a special enrollment period.
If you are a Minnesota resident enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), you have options to also enroll in a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan in Minnesota (also called Medigap or MedSupp) to cover health costs not covered under Original Medicare. Costs not covered under Original Medicare might include deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and other out-of-pocket costs. Most states, including Minnesota, offer Medigap policies with letters corresponding with different Medicare Supplement Insurance plans with certain standardized benefits.
MA plans often include dental, vision and health-club benefits that aren’t part of many supplements. Yet people who buy a supplement have the option of buying “stand-alone” Part D prescription drug coverage from any one of several insurers — a feature touted as one of the selling points for Cost plans, too. People in MA plans, by contrast, are limited to Part D plans sold by their MA carrier, Christenson said.
Of the 35,476 total active applicants who participated in The National Resident Matching Program in 2016, 75.6% (26,836) were able to find PGY-1 (R-1) matches. Out of the total active applicants, 51.27% (18,187) were graduates of conventional US medical schools; 93.8% (17,057) were able to find a match. In comparison, match rates were 80.3% of osteopathic graduates, 53.9% of US citizen international medical school graduates, and 50.5% of non-US citizen international medical schools graduates.[106]
Tufts Health Plan Senior Care Options is available to individuals who are at least 65 years old and have Medicare and MassHealth Standard (Medicaid) or just MassHealth Standard (Medicaid). This plan provides members who qualify with medical and prescription benefits along with a Primary Care Team, whose key goal is to improve the coordination of care you receive. 
HAP Senior Plus (HMO)/(HMO-POS)/(PPO) and HAP Primary Choice Medicare (HMO) are health plans with Medicare contracts. HAP Empowered Duals (HMO SNP) is a Medicare health plan with a Medicare contract and a contract with the Michigan Medicaid Program. Enrollment in the plans depends on contract renewals. HAP Senior Plus (PPO) is a product of Alliance Health and Life Insurance company, a wholly owned subsidiary of HAP.
Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that you can return to the Medigap plan you had before. Unless this was your first time ever in a Medicare Advantage plan, then you will usually have to answer health questions and go through medical underwriting to get re-approved for Medigap. Consider this before dropping any Medigap plan to go to Medicare Advantage.
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.
Minnesota Medicare Part D is specifically for prescription drug coverage. It has something unique to it called the coverage gap. The coverage gap works similar to a deductible. Beneficiaries have to pay a certain amount determined by the coverage gap before they can get discounted prices. How large the discount, and what prescription drugs it applies to, is determined by the private insurance provider.
Remember, Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits that are not offered in Original Medicare coverage. Beneficiaries who need prescription drug coverage may prefer the convenience of having all of their Medicare coverage included under a single plan, instead of enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for Medicare Part D coverage. However, every person’s situation is different, so it’s a good idea to review your specific health needs, and compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area to find a plan option that best suits your needs.

A number of different plans have been introduced that would raise the age of Medicare eligibility.[126][130][131][132] Some have argued that, as the population ages and the ratio of workers to retirees increases, programs for the elderly need to be reduced. Since the age at which Americans can retire with full Social Security benefits is rising to 67, it is argued that the age of eligibility for Medicare should rise with it (though people can begin receiving reduced Social Security benefits as early as age 62).

As of 2015, individuals who qualified for Medicare by virtue of their age alone made up 86 percent of Minnesota Medicare recipients. The balance — 14 percent — were on Medicare as the result of a disability. Kentucky had the highest percent of Medicare recipients listed as disabled (25 percent), followed by Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and Arkansas. Hawaii had the smallest percentage at 10 percent, followed by New Jersey, and North and South Dakota at 13 percent each.
You can apply online for Medicare even if you are not ready to retire. Use our online application to sign up for Medicare. It takes less than 10 minutes. In most cases, once your application is submitted electronically, you’re done. There are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required. Social Security will process your application and contact you if we need more information. Otherwise, you’ll receive your Medicare card in the mail. Learn more about Your Medicare card.
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