Over the long-term, Medicare faces significant financial challenges because of rising overall health care costs, increasing enrollment as the population ages, and a decreasing ratio of workers to enrollees. Total Medicare spending is projected to increase from $523 billion in 2010 to around $900 billion by 2020. From 2010 to 2030, Medicare enrollment is projected to increase from 47 million to 79 million, and the ratio of workers to enrollees is expected to decrease from 3.7 to 2.4.[79] However, the ratio of workers to retirees has declined steadily for decades, and social insurance systems have remained sustainable due to rising worker productivity. There is some evidence that productivity gains will continue to offset demographic trends in the near future.[80]
Doctors and medical providers have two primary options for how to file a Medical claim. One way is through the Social Security office, and the other is to make a Medicare claim online in MN. Whoever is filing the form does not have to submit that information. The first is an itemized list of what the claim is being made for. The second is a letter explaining why the claim is being made in the first place. Lastly, the doctor or medical provider can include whatever evidence they believe supports the claim.
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.
So, is a Medicare Advantage plan right for you? And, should you get one with or without prescription drug coverage? The decision probably depends on your particular situation. I can work with you to get answers. Learn more about me by viewing my profile using the “View profile” link below. Or, use one of the links below to request a time to meet with me by phone or an email with personalized information for you. Compare the Medicare Advantage plans that you might be eligible for by clicking on the Compare Plans buttons on this page.
Most Advantage plans charge monthly premiums in addition to the Part B premium (you have to pay the Part B premium in addition to your Advantage premium, even if you’re in a “zero premium” Advantage plan). Some plans have deductibles, others do not. But all Medicare Advantage plans must limit maximum out-of-pocket (not counting prescriptions) to no more than $6,700 in 2018 (unchanged from 2016 and 2017; CMS will be using new methodology to set maximum out-of-pocket limits for Medicare Advantage plans as of 2020). Many plans have out-of-pocket limits below this threshold however, so it’s important to consider the maximum out-of-pocket when comparing policies. The median out-of-pocket amount for Medicare Advantage plans in 2016 was $5,800. This was a 3.5 percent increase from 2015’s median out-of-pocket limit, but it’s still well below the maximum allowed by law.
Generally, if you already receive Social Security payments, at age 65 you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance). In addition, you are generally also automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). If you choose to accept Part B you must pay a monthly premium to keep it. However, you may delay enrollment with no penalty under some circumstances, or with penalty under other circumstances.

Private managed care programs for Medicare beneficiaries are particularly popular in Minnesota. More than half of all Minnesota Medicare enrollees are in Medicare Advantage plans, as opposed to a national average of 33 percent (in Minnesota, it’s 56 percent; Hawaii has the second-highest percentage of their Medicare beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage, at 45 percent).


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Medicare is not generally an unearned entitlement. Entitlement is most commonly based on a record of contributions to the Medicare fund. As such it is a form of social insurance making it feasible for people to pay for insurance for sickness in old age when they are young and able to work and be assured of getting back benefits when they are older and no longer working. Some people will pay in more than they receive back and others will receive more benefits than they paid in. Unlike private insurance where some amount must be paid to attain coverage, all eligible persons can receive coverage regardless of how much or if they had ever paid in.

Like other types of health insurance, each Medicare Advantage plan has different rules about coverage for treatment, patient responsibility, costs and more. Joining a Medicare Advantage plan may make someone ineligible to continue receiving health care coverage through their employer or union, so if employer-based coverage fits a consumer's needs, they may want to hold off on enrolling in Medicare.
Most people fill Medicare’s coverage gaps by buying a Medicare supplement (medigap) plan and a Part D prescription-drug plan, or they get both medical and drug coverage from a private insurer with a Medicare Advantage plan. You have from October 15 to December 7 each year to pick a Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan for the year ahead. You can switch from one Part D plan to another, or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. You can also switch into a Medicare Advantage plan. However, if you have Medicare Advantage and want to switch to a medigap plan plus a Part D plan, you may have limited medigap options depending on your health—although you can choose any Part D plan during open enrollment. (For more information about how to choose between Medicare Advantage or medigap and Part D, see How to Fill Medicare Coverage Gaps).

As you might be aware, the Part D coverage gap, also known as the donut hole, is with us for one more year. The new healthcare law is gradually doing away with the coverage gap. Until the donut hole is gone for good in 2020, you can save money on prescriptions that are not covered by a Minnesota PDP by downloading a Pharmacy Discount Card or coupons. We recommend GoodRx.com.

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 beneficiaries in Minnesota have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan as an alternative way to get their Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, coverage. Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans are available through private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. All Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, meaning you’ll get the same hospital and medical benefits of Part A and Part B through your Medicare Advantage plan. In addition, some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional benefits, such as routine dental, vision, hearing, or prescription drugs.

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.

Both House Republicans and President Obama proposed increasing the additional premiums paid by the wealthiest people with Medicare, compounding several reforms in the ACA that would increase the number of wealthier individuals paying higher, income-related Part B and Part D premiums. Such proposals are projected to save $20 billion over the course of a decade,[150] and would ultimately result in more than a quarter of Medicare enrollees paying between 35 and 90 percent of their Part B costs by 2035, rather than the typical 25 percent. If the brackets mandated for 2035 were implemented today,[when?] it would mean that anyone earning more than $47,000 (as an individual) or $94,000 (as a couple) would be affected. Under the Republican proposals, affected individuals would pay 40 percent of the total Part B and Part D premiums, which would be equivalent of $2,500 today.[151]
A Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) can help pay your prescription drug costs. Designed to work alongside Original Medicare coverage, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans are available from private insurance companies approved by Medicare and doing business in Minnesota. You can also enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include Part D prescription drug coverage in its benefits.
During Open Enrollment, you may enroll your domestic partner, and your partner’s eligible dependents, in health and welfare benefits that are open for enrollment as long as the relationship meets established criteria. If you would like to enroll your newly-eligible domestic partner in Life and/or Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, or increase your own Life coverage, you will have a Period of Initial Enrollment from Jan. 1-31, 2019. See your benefits portal for details.
Plans are required to limit out-of-pocket (OOP) spending by a beneficiary for Parts A and B to no more than $6,700 (as of 2016) per year for in-network providers. The OOP limit may be higher for out of network providers in a PPO; out of network providers are typically not permitted in an HMO. The average OOP limit in 2016 was around $5000. Note that an OOP limit is not a deductible as is often reported; it is instead a financial-protection benefit. It is rare for a Medicare Advantage beneficiary to reach the annual OOP limit.
Like other types of health insurance, each Medicare Advantage plan has different rules about coverage for treatment, patient responsibility, costs and more. Joining a Medicare Advantage plan may make someone ineligible to continue receiving health care coverage through their employer or union, so if employer-based coverage fits a consumer's needs, they may want to hold off on enrolling in Medicare.
CMS and MedPAC now believe the "like beneficiary" calculations (those on A/B vs those on A/B/C) that have been used for a decade and that underlay many changes made by PPACA and subsequent regulations are not comparative and are misleading (see slide 8 of the January 12, 2017 MedPAC session on Medicare Advantage and other discussions on this subject since that time). That is because the calculations include the increasing number of people only on Part A (primarily because they did not "retire" at 65 given the higher Social Security full retirement age but did join Medicare Part A at 65 as recommended) whereas a "like" Medicare Part C beneficiary has to be on both Parts A and Part B. On an absolute basis, in 2015 Medicare spent 4% less on Medicare Advantage and other Part C beneficiaries per person than they did per person on Medicare beneficiaries under FFS Medicare.[9] In 2014 the difference in parity on an absolute basis was 2% less per person on Part C.[10] It appears from both points of view—per "like beneficiary" and absolutely—that the latest formula delivers the original cost-saving promise of Managed Medicare. But an absolute comparison is not totally accurate either.
MA plans feature a network of doctors and hospitals that enrollees must use to get the maximum payment, whereas supplements tend to provide access to a broader set of health care providers, said Shawnee Christenson, an insurance agent with Crosstown Insurance in New Hope. While that might sound good to beneficiaries, supplements can come with significantly higher premiums, Christenson said.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce: provides beneficiaries with information about Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans and other insurance options available to them. The office is a resource for information about protection from Medicare fraud and how to report fraud. Additional links are included for federal offices that deal with Medicare and brochures that explain how to enroll in Part D Prescription Drug Plans. This government office also offers downloads of premium guides for supplemental plans available to current Medicare beneficiaries in Minnesota.

In 2006, the SGR mechanism was scheduled to decrease physician payments by 4.4%. (This number results from a 7% decrease in physician payments times a 2.8% inflation adjustment increase.) Congress overrode this decrease in the Deficit Reduction Act (P.L. 109-362), and held physician payments in 2006 at their 2005 levels. Similarly, another congressional act held 2007 payments at their 2006 levels, and HR 6331 held 2008 physician payments to their 2007 levels, and provided for a 1.1% increase in physician payments in 2009. Without further continuing congressional intervention, the SGR is expected to decrease physician payments from 25% to 35% over the next several years.

The 2019 Initial Coverage Limit (ICL) is $3,820. The Coverage Gap (donut hole) starts when you reach the ICL ($3,820) and ends when you spend a total of $5,100. This year, Part D enrollees get a 75% discount on the total cost of brand-name drugs purchased while in the donut hole. A 70% discount, paid by the brand-name drug manufacturer, applies to getting out of the donut hole. But, the additional 5% paid by your PDP does not count toward your True Out-of-Pocket (TrOOP) costs.
One of the reasons Medicare Cost is so popular in Minnesota is that the state has a large population of “snowbirds” — retirees who live in Minnesota during the summer, but head south to warmer climes in the winter. With Medicare Cost plans, the enrollee still has Original Medicare — including the large nationwide network of providers who work with Medicare — in addition to the Medicare Cost coverage. Medicare Advantage plans, in contrast, tend to have localized networks that might not be suitable for a senior who lives in two different states during the year. A Medigap plan plus Original Medicare will allow a person in that situation to have access to health providers in both locations, although Medigap tends to be more expensive than Medicare Advantage. There are pros and cons to both options, and no one-size-fits-all solution.
As of 2016, 11 policies are currently sold—though few are available in all states, and some are not available at all in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Plans are standardized with a base and a series of riders.. These are Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, High Deductible Plan F, Plan G, Plan K, Plan L, Plan M, and Plan N. Cost is usually the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies. Unlike Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans have no networks, and any provider who accepts Medicare must also accept the Medicare Supplement Plan.
Every person is different, so you’ll want to carefully research Medicare Advantage plan options in light of your specific health needs and budget. Keep in mind that plan costs, benefits, service areas, and provider networks may all change from year to year, so it’s a good idea to review your coverage every year and make sure it’s still a good fit for your situation. Taking the time to shop around and compare Medicare Advantage plan options in your area could save you money on out-of-pocket costs.

There can be many benefits to Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C. Perhaps you prefer the convenience of having all of your health and drug benefits under a single plan, instead of enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for your Medicare Part D coverage. Or you may be looking for extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as routine vision and dental coverage.
Enrollment in the public Part C health plan program, including plans called Medicare Advantage since 2005, grew from zero in 1997 (not counting the pre-Part C demonstration projects) to over 21 million in 2018.[4] That 21,000,000-plus represents about 35% of the people on Medicare. But today over half the people fully signing up for Medicare for the first time, are choosing a public Part C plan of some type.

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 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.
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