The legislation that introduced Medicare Advantage also created a competition clause that banned Medicare Cost plans from operating in areas where they faced substantial competition from Medicare Advantage plans, but the implementation of the competition clause was delayed for many years. In 2015, legislation (MACRA) called for the competition clause to be implemented as of 2019.
Original Medicare provides no similar OOP spending cap and the exposure of an Original Medicare beneficiary to a financial catastrophe is unlimited (but also rare). Once the OOP maximum is reached for an individual, the plan pays 100% of medical services for the remainder of the calendar year (with no lifetime maximum). This OOP limit does not apply to a Part C plan's Part-D-like self-administered drug coverage (which uses another means of addressing catastrophic costs).
Some Medicare supplemental insurance (or "Medigap") plans cover all of an enrollee's cost-sharing, insulating them from any out-of-pocket costs and guaranteeing financial security to individuals with significant health care needs. Many policymakers believe that such plans raise the cost of Medicare by creating a perverse incentive that leads patients to seek unnecessary, costly treatments. Many argue that unnecessary treatments are a major cause of rising costs and propose that people with Medicare should feel more of the cost of their care to create incentives to seek the most efficient alternatives. Various restrictions and surcharges on Medigap coverage have appeared in recent deficit reduction proposals. One of the furthest-reaching reforms proposed, which would prevent Medigap from covering any of the first $500 of coinsurance charges and limit it to covering 50 percent of all costs beyond that, could save $50 billion over 10 years. But it would also increase health care costs substantially for people with costly health care needs.
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.
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.
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.
Because Medicare offers statutorily determined benefits, its coverage policies and payment rates are publicly known, and all enrollees are entitled to the same coverage. In the private insurance market, plans can be tailored to offer different benefits to different customers, enabling individuals to reduce coverage costs while assuming risks for care that is not covered. Insurers, however, have far fewer disclosure requirements than Medicare, and studies show that customers in the private sector can find it difficult to know what their policy covers. and at what cost. Moreover, since Medicare collects data about utilization and costs for its enrollees—data that private insurers treat as trade secrets—it gives researchers key information about health care system performance.
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.
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.
If you decide to leave a Medicare Advantage plan and return back to Original Medicare, you must notify your Medicare Advantage plan carrier. Otherwise Medicare will continue to show that you are enrolled in the Advantage plan instead of Medicare. This is a common billing nightmare that we see among people who enrolled on their own without the help of an agent.
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.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA") of 2010 made a number of changes to the Medicare program. Several provisions of the law were designed to reduce the cost of Medicare. The most substantial provisions slowed the growth rate of payments to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities under Parts A of Medicare, through a variety of methods (e.g., arbitrary percentage cuts, penalties for readmissions).
"Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare 2013," (PDF) lists all Medicare health plans that sell in Minnesota with specific information on each plan's coverage including premiums. Also includes basic information on Medicare ( including enrollment timeline information), Medicare prescriptions (Part D), special health care programs to save money, Medicare appeals process, health care fraud, and long-term care. This comprehensive booklet is published by the Minnesota Board on Aging and is available on line and through the Senior LinkAge Line 1-800-333-2433.
Advantage plan benefits may change every year. In September, you will receive a packet from your Part C insurance company telling you what is changing. The plan’s benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments and co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Will you be diligent enough to review your annual packet and communicate with your agent if you have concerns about the changes?
Payment for physician services under Medicare has evolved since the program was created in 1965. Initially, Medicare compensated physicians based on the physician's charges, and allowed physicians to bill Medicare beneficiaries the amount in excess of Medicare's reimbursement. In 1975, annual increases in physician fees were limited by the Medicare Economic Index (MEI). The MEI was designed to measure changes in costs of physician's time and operating expenses, adjusted for changes in physician productivity. From 1984 to 1991, the yearly change in fees was determined by legislation. This was done because physician fees were rising faster than projected.
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.  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.