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.
If you have health coverage from your union or employer (current or former) when you become eligible for Medicare, you may automatically be enrolled in an MA Plan that they sponsor. You have the choice to stay with this plan, switch to Original Medicare, or enroll in a different MA Plan. Be aware that if you switch to Original Medicare or enroll in a different MA Plan, your employer or union could terminate or reduce your health benefits, the health benefits of your dependents, and any other benefits you get from your company. Talk to your employer/union and your plan before making changes to find out how your health benefits and other benefits may be affected.

Medicare’s online plan-finder tool includes information about Medicare Advantage plans. To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, a consumer must provide the information on their Medicare card, including their Medicare number and the dates when their Part A and Part B coverage began. A consumer can change Medicare Advantage plans during a specified open enrollment period in the fall that typically spans from mid-October to early December.
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.
Additionally, the PPACA created the Independent Payment Advisory Board ("IPAB"), which is empowered to submit legislative proposals to reduce the cost of Medicare if the program's per-capita spending grows faster than per-capita GDP plus one percent.[87] While the IPAB would be barred from rationing care, raising revenue, changing benefits or eligibility, increasing cost sharing, or cutting payments to hospitals, its creation has been one of the more controversial aspects of health reform.[113] In 2016, the Medicare Trustees projected that the IPAB will have to convene in 2017 and make cuts effective in 2019.
Minnesota Medicare claims are generally not filed by beneficiaries. MN Medicare claim forms must often be filed out by doctors and medical providers. A Medicare claim can be made within a year of first receiving the provided service. It is still possible to file claims after this time period, but Medicare is in no way legally obligated to make any payments. Beneficiaries might get lucky, especially if there were extenuating circumstances for why they were unable to file a Medicare claim in the first place.
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]
While the majority of providers accept Medicare assignments, (97 percent for some specialties),[61] and most physicians still accept at least some new Medicare patients, that number is in decline.[62] While 80% of physicians in the Texas Medical Association accepted new Medicare patients in 2000, only 60% were doing so by 2012.[63] A study published in 2012 concluded that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) relies on the recommendations of an American Medical Association advisory panel. The study led by Dr. Miriam J. Laugesen, of Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues at UCLA and the University of Illinois, shows that for services provided between 1994 and 2010, CMS agreed with 87.4% of the recommendations of the committee, known as RUC or the Relative Value Update Committee.[64]
Many experts have suggested that establishing mechanisms to coordinate care for the dual-eligibles could yield substantial savings in the Medicare program, mostly by reducing hospitalizations. Such programs would connect patients with primary care, create an individualized health plan, assist enrollees in receiving social and human services as well as medical care, reconcile medications prescribed by different doctors to ensure they do not undermine one another, and oversee behavior to improve health.[145] The general ethos of these proposals is to "treat the patient, not the condition,"[139] and maintain health while avoiding costly treatments.
There is some evidence that claims of Medigap's tendency to cause over-treatment may be exaggerated and that potential savings from restricting it might be smaller than expected.[158] Meanwhile, there are some concerns about the potential effects on enrollees. Individuals who face high charges with every episode of care have been shown to delay or forgo needed care, jeopardizing their health and possibly increasing their health care costs down the line.[159] Given their lack of medical training, most patients tend to have difficulty distinguishing between necessary and unnecessary treatments. The problem could be exaggerated among the Medicare population, which has low levels of health literacy.[full citation needed]
Would you like to learn more about Medicare Advantage plans in your area? Ask me about anything else you’d like to know. You can use one of the links below to set aside some time to talk with me by phone, or ask me to email you with more information. Learn more about who I am by clicking my photo or profile below. If you want to start comparing the plans available in your area, click the Find Plans or Compare Plans buttons on this page.
Medicare Advantage plans have lock-in periods. You can enroll in one during Initial Enrollment Period when you first turn 65. After that, you may enroll or dis-enroll only during certain times of year. Once you enroll in Medicare Advantage, you must stay enrolled in the plan for the rest of the calendar year. You may only dis-enroll from an Advantage plan during specific times of the year.
What Medicare covers in Minnesota is determined entirely by the plan. Medicare Part A coverage is focused primarily on hospital insurance. Some of the services that are covered by Medicare Part A include inpatient hospital care, some nursing facility costs, limited home health services, and some hospice cares. The most important factor for determining Medicare Part A coverage in Minnesota is whether or not a doctor recommended it. For example, the coverage could extend to physical or occupational therapy, if recommended by a doctor. Anything that is not strictly recommended will not be covered.
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.

You can apply online on CoveredCA.com. This single application will let you know if you qualify for coverage through Covered California or Medi-Cal. You can also apply in person at your local county human services agency or by phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506. If you need help applying or have questions, you can Find Help for free. Find a certified enroller in your area.

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.
×