Medicare's unfunded obligation is the total amount of money that would have to be set aside today such that the principal and interest would cover the gap between projected revenues (mostly Part B premiums and Part A payroll taxes to be paid over the timeframe under current law) and spending over a given timeframe. By law the timeframe used is 75 years though the Medicare actuaries also give an infinite-horizon estimate because life expectancy consistently increases and other economic factors underlying the estimates change.
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.
Medicare has four parts: Part A is Hospital Insurance. Part B is Medical Insurance. Medicare Part D covers many prescription drugs, though some are covered by Part B. In general, the distinction is based on whether or not the drugs are self-administered. Part C health plans, the most popular of which are branded Medicare Advantage, are another way for Original Medicare (Part A and B) beneficiaries to receive their Part A, B and D benefits. All Medicare benefits are subject to medical necessity.
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.
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.
Some beneficiaries are dual-eligible. This means they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. In some states for those making below a certain income, Medicaid will pay the beneficiaries' Part B premium for them (most beneficiaries have worked long enough and have no Part A premium), as well as some of their out of pocket medical and hospital expenses.

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.
Without question, Original Medicare with a Medigap plan gives you very comprehensive coverage. The primary differences are that with Medigap plans, you can see any doctor that accepts Medicare. You don’t have to ask your doctors if they take your specific Medigap insurance company. The network is Medicare, which has over 800,000 providers. The network is nationwide, not local.
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.
Part A Late Enrollment Penalty If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, and you don't buy a premium-based Part A when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You must pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn't sign-up. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for 2 years but didn't sign-up, you must pay the higher premium for 4 years. Usually, you don't have to pay a penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part A during a Special Enrollment Period.
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]
If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), automatically or otherwise, your Initial Coverage Election Period and your Initial Enrollment Period happen at the same time. The Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before the month you turn 65, includes your birth month, and ends three months after that (seven months total). If you didn’t sign up for Original Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period (if you still have health insurance through an employer or union, for example), your Initial Coverage Election Period is the 3-month period before your Medicare Part B start date. For example, if you enrolled in Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period (January 1–March 31), your Part B start date would be July 1, so your Initial Coverage Election Period would be April 1 to June 30.
All four Parts of Medicare—A, B and C, and D—are administered by private companies under contract to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Almost all these companies are insurance companies, except for those that administer Medicare Advantage and other Part C plans. Most Medicare Advantage and other Part C plans are administered (CMS uses the term "sponsored") by integrated health delivery systems and non-profit charities under state laws, and/or under union or religious management.
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.
If you’re ready to start browsing plan options, eHealth’s Medicare plan comparison tool may be useful. You can find Medicare plan options based on location, insurance company, premium cost, and more. Our plan finder tool is a convenient way for you to compare plan details side-by-side to ensure that the most important aspects of your health-care needs are covered.
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]
Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are one way for beneficiaries to receive their Medicare benefits. These plans are required to offer everything that’s covered under Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, with the exception of hospice care, and may include other benefits as well, such as prescription drug coverage, dental, and vision.
If you live in the designated service area of the specific plan, and already have Part A and Part B, you may join a Medicare Advantage plan (note that there are some rural areas of the country where no Medicare Advantage plans are available). If you have union or employer-sponsored insurance, you may be able to add an Advantage plan, but be forewarned that in some cases you may lose your employer or union coverage when you enroll in an Advantage plan.
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.
The other group of who is eligible for Medicare consists of applicants collecting disability. Any applicant who has been collecting disability for at least two years will be eligible for Medicare coverage in Minnesota. Some applicants might even have this requirement waived depending on their condition. For example, applicants with ALS will be able to collect Medicare coverage the moment they begin to get their disability benefits. Applicants who get Medicare from their disability do not have to meet any specific age requirements.

The new healthcare law did not change the coverage you get from Medicare for major medical. You are still responsible for paying the remaining 20 percent of all hospital and doctor bills. Even a brief hospital stay can cost you thousands. That's why we maintain a complete catalog of Minnesota Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap. We make it easy to find the best price on the plan you want. All Medigap plans are 100% compatible with the Medicare PartD pland listed above.


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.
Since 1997, Medicare enrollees have had the option of going beyond their Original Medicare coverage by enrolling in Medicare Advantage. As of 2017, there were a record 19 million people enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, accounting for about 33 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage has been steadily growing since 2004. Managed care programs administered by private health insurers have been available to Medicare beneficiaries since the 1970s, but these programs have grown significantly since the Balanced Budget Act – signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1997 – created the Medicare+Choice program.The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 changed the name to Medicare Advantage, but the concept is still the same: beneficiaries receive their Medicare benefits through a private health insurance plan, and the health insurance carrier receives payments from the Medicare program to cover beneficiaries’ medical costs.

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.
Evidence is mixed on how quality and access compare between Medicare Advantage and "traditional" Medicare.[17] ("traditional" in quotes because it is not the same as Original Medicare; everyone in Medicare must begin by joining Original Medicare; the term "traditional" typically refers to FFS and almost always means the beneficiary has a private group or individually purchased supplement to Original Medicare). Most research suggests that enrollees in Medicare HMOs tend to receive more preventative services than beneficiaries in traditional Medicare; however, beneficiaries, especially those in poorer health, tend to rate the quality and access to care in traditional Medicare more favorably than in Medicare Advantage. It is difficult to generalize the results of studies across all plans participating in the program because performance on quality and access metrics varies widely across the types of Medicare Advantage plans and among the dozens of providers of Medicare Advantage plans.
It is extremely important to evaluate all options when making a decision about Medigap plans in Minnesota. In Minnesota, Medicare Supplement Insurance plans are available throughout the state as either a Medigap Basic plan or Medigap Extended Basic plan. However, the costs may be different based on which insurance carrier offers the plans. Those who wish to enroll in a Minnesota Medicare Supplement Insurance plan should thoroughly evaluate all available plans and make a determination based on personal health needs and budget.
People often ask us our opinion on which plan is the best Medicare Advantage plan. This varies based on a number of personal factors. What’s right for your friend or neighbor may not be right for you. Don’t risk making a mistake on something as critical as your health insurance. Get help from an experienced agent who can explain your options in detail.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans: This type of Medicare Advantage plan offers more provider flexibility. PPOs typically have a preferred provider network, but you may also use out-of-network doctors if you choose, although your cost sharing may be higher. Unlike HMOs, you don’t need referrals for specialist care and you aren’t required to have a primary care doctor.


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.
Choice: Medicare Advantage plans generally limit you to the doctors and facilities within the HMO or PPO, and may or may not cover any out-of-network care. Traditional Medicare and Medigap policies cover you if you go to any doctor or facility that accepts Medicare. If you require particular specialists or hospitals, check whether they are covered by the plan you select.
Two distinct premium support systems have recently been proposed in Congress to control the cost of Medicare. The House Republicans' 2012 budget would have abolished traditional Medicare and required the eligible population to purchase private insurance with a newly created premium support program. This plan would have cut the cost of Medicare by capping the value of the voucher and tying its growth to inflation, which is expected to be lower than rising health costs, saving roughly $155 billion over 10 years.[125] Paul Ryan, the plan's author, claimed that competition would drive down costs,[126] but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the plan would dramatically raise the cost of health care, with all of the additional costs falling on enrollees. The CBO found that under the plan, typical 65-year-olds would go from paying 35 percent of their health care costs to paying 68 percent by 2030.[127]
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has restructured payments to Medicare Advantage plans in an effort to reduce budget spending on Medicare, but for the last few years the payment changes have either been delayed or offset by payment increases. When the law was first passed, many people – including the CBO – projected that Medicare Advantage enrollment would drop considerably over the coming years as payment reductions forced plans to offer fewer benefits, higher out-of-pocket costs, and narrower networks.

On January 1, 1992, Medicare introduced the Medicare Fee Schedule (MFS), a list of about 7,000 services that can be billed for. Each service is priced within the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS) with three Relative Value Units (RVUs) values largely determining the price. The three RVUs for a procedure are each geographically weighted and the weighted RVU value is multiplied by a global Conversion Factor (CF), yielding a price in dollars. The RVUs themselves are largely decided by a private group of 29 (mostly specialist) physicians—the American Medical Association's Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC).[54]

UPMC for Life has a contract with Medicare to provide HMO, HMO SNP, and PPO plans. The HMO SNP plan has a contract with the PA State Medical Assistance program. Enrollment in UPMC for Life depends on contract renewal. UPMC for Life is a product of and operated by UPMC Health Plan Inc., UPMC Health Network Inc., UPMC Health Benefits Inc., and UPMC for You Inc.

If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare during your Medicare Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), automatically or otherwise, your Initial Coverage Election Period and your Initial Enrollment Period happen at the same time. The Initial Enrollment Period starts three months before the month you turn 65, includes your birth month, and ends three months after that (seven months total). If you didn’t sign up for Original Medicare during the Initial Enrollment Period (if you still have health insurance through an employer or union, for example), your Initial Coverage Election Period is the 3-month period before your Medicare Part B start date. For example, if you enrolled in Medicare Part B during the General Enrollment Period (January 1–March 31), your Part B start date would be July 1, so your Initial Coverage Election Period would be April 1 to June 30.
It is important to understand whether enrolling your partner or dependents subjects you to imputed income on your federal or state taxes. See What to do if you’re establishing a domestic partnership for full details about eligibility, establishing your partnership for UCRP benefits, and tax implications of enrolling your domestic partner in benefits.

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.
In the same year, an estimated 42% of California children and youth ages 0-21 had Medicaid (Medi-Cal), CHIP, or other means-tested public health insurance coverage, with enrollment estimates highest for infants (47%) and lowest for young adults ages 18-21 (31%). Statewide, coverage for African American/black and Hispanic/Latino groups was higher than 50% in 2016, whereas estimates for Asian/Pacific Islander and white children/youth were lower than 28%. In the 2016 federal fiscal year, total yearly enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP among California children ages 0-17 was 720 per 1,000, more than 20% higher than the national rate of 590 per 1,000.

Medi-Cal is California’s state-managed version of Medicaid, a federal health insurance program designed for low-income individuals and families. It provides low-cost and no-cost health insurance coverage to individuals and families that meet certain eligibility requirements.* Those who qualify for Medi-Cal coverage can continue to receive those benefits as long as they meet eligibility requirements.
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.
In 2003 Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law on December 8, 2003. Part of this legislation included filling gaps in prescription-drug coverage left by the Medicare Secondary Payer Act that was enacted in 1980. The 2003 bill strengthened the Workers' Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Program (WCMSA) that is monitored and administered by CMS.
In 2015, Medicare provided health insurance for over 55 million—46 million people age 65 and older and 9 million younger people. In January 2018, they have issued the new medicare (Red, White and Blue) cards to all the beneficiaries. [1] On average, Medicare covers about half of the healthcare charges for those enrolled. The enrollees must then cover their remaining costs either with supplemental insurance, separate insurance, or out of pocket. Out-of-pocket costs can vary depending on the amount of healthcare a Medicare enrollee needs. These out-of-pocket costs might include deductibles and co-pays; the costs of uncovered services—such as for long-term, dental, hearing, and vision care—and supplemental insurance premiums.[2]
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