Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in January 2014. With the implementation of the ACA, many of the participants in Healthy San Francisco became newly eligible for insurance through Medi-Cal Expansion starting January 2014, resulting in an 83 percent caseload increase within two years. The Human Services Agency (HSA) aims to further increase enrollment through outreach to the estimated 10,000 low-income San Franciscans who do not have health insurance.


Popular opinion surveys show that the public views Medicare's problems as serious, but not as urgent as other concerns. In January 2006, the Pew Research Center found 62 percent of the public said addressing Medicare's financial problems should be a high priority for the government, but that still put it behind other priorities.[90] Surveys suggest that there's no public consensus behind any specific strategy to keep the program solvent.[91]

Popular opinion surveys show that the public views Medicare's problems as serious, but not as urgent as other concerns. In January 2006, the Pew Research Center found 62 percent of the public said addressing Medicare's financial problems should be a high priority for the government, but that still put it behind other priorities.[90] Surveys suggest that there's no public consensus behind any specific strategy to keep the program solvent.[91]
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.
California's Medicaid program Medi-Cal is a public health insurance program that provides free or low-cost health care coverage to low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, single adults and low income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. Medi-Cal pays for medical visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, pregnancy-related treatment, dental and eye care, and other medical services for individuals who do not have healthcare coverage.
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).

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.[75] and at what cost.[76] 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.

Exact parity would require major changes to Medicare law (so-called "premium support" proposals, for example), but as of the March 2016 MedPAC report, in 2016 Medicare was expected to spend just 2 percent more on "like" Medicare Advantage beneficiaries per person than for a "like set of beneficiaries" under Original Medicare Parts A and B, theoretically adding an additional 0.5% ($3 billion) to the cost of the overall Medicare program vs. what would have been spent absent Part C. As in 2009, the major plans within Medicare Advantage causing the lack of parity were Employer Group plans (6 percent more) and the few grandfathered PFFS beneficiaries left (10 percent more). Vanilla HMO and PPO plans—as well as SNPs—cost only 1% more per person in comparing "like set of beneficiaries". Overall, only a few recent studies provide a limited picture of beneficiary experiences since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010.
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.[75] and at what cost.[76] 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.
The Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (or Relative Value Update Committee; RUC), composed of physicians associated with the American Medical Association, advises the government about pay standards for Medicare patient procedures performed by doctors and other professionals under Medicare Part B.[16] A similar but different CMS system determines the rates paid for acute care and other hospitals—including skilled nursing facilities—under Medicare Part A.
A federal law passed in 2003 created a “competition” requirement for Medicare Cost plans, which stipulated the plans could not be offered in service areas where there was significant competition from Medicare Advantage plans. Congress delayed implementation of the requirement several times until a law passed in 2015 that called for the rule to take effect in 2019.
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.
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."
Before 2003 Part C plans tended to be suburban HMOs tied to major nearby teaching hospitals that cost the government the same as or even 5% less on average than it cost to cover the medical needs of a comparable beneficiary on Original Medicare. The 2003-law payment framework/bidding/rebate formulas overcompensated some Part C plans by 7 percent (2009) on average nationally compared to what Original Medicare beneficiaries cost per person on average nationally that year and as much as 5 percent (2016) less nationally in other years (see any recent year's Medicare Trustees Report, Table II.B.1). The MedPAC group found in one year the comparative difference for "like beneficiaries" (not all beneficiaries as described in the first sentence) was as high as 14% and have tended to average about 2% higher.[44] The word like in the previous sentence is key. The intention of both the 1997 and 2003 law was that the differences between fee for service and capitated fee beneficiaries would reach parity over time.
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.
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.
Applicants who are about to sign up for Medicare in MN first need to be aware of the different enrollment periods. The first is the initial enrollment period for Medicare. Applicants who want to fill out this Minnesota Medicare enrollment application can actually do so before they turn 65. Initial enrollment officially begins three months before the applicant has turned 65. Those who are eligible for Medicare will receive a notification in the mail shortly before the initial enrollment period begins. This letter will state if they are eligible for automatic enrollment, or if they have to manually fill out a Medicare application in MN. The initial enrollment continues for a period of four months after an applicant turns 65. The month of their birthday is counted as the fourth month, effectively giving applicants a period of seven months to apply for Medicare in the initial enrollment period.
On August 1, 2007, the US House United States Congress voted to reduce payments to Medicare Advantage providers in order to pay for expanded coverage of children's health under the SCHIP program. As of 2008, Medicare Advantage plans cost, on average, 13 percent more per person insured for like beneficiaries than direct payment plans.[110] Many health economists have concluded that payments to Medicare Advantage providers have been excessive. The Senate, after heavy lobbying from the insurance industry, declined to agree to the cuts in Medicare Advantage proposed by the House. President Bush subsequently vetoed the SCHIP extension.[111]

As an alternative to obtaining Original Medicare coverage directly from the government, you may want to consider Medicare Advantage (sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C) in Minnesota. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with CMS to provide all Original Medicare benefits except hospice care, which is paid by Medicare Part A. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include extra benefits such as routine dental and vision care.
There is some controversy over who exactly should take responsibility for coordinating the care of the dual eligibles. There have been some proposals to transfer dual eligibles into existing Medicaid managed care plans, which are controlled by individual states.[146] But many states facing severe budget shortfalls might have some incentive to stint on necessary care or otherwise shift costs to enrollees and their families to capture some Medicaid savings. Medicare has more experience managing the care of older adults, and is already expanding coordinated care programs under the ACA,[147] though there are some questions about private Medicare plans' capacity to manage care and achieve meaningful cost savings.[148]
Popular opinion surveys show that the public views Medicare's problems as serious, but not as urgent as other concerns. In January 2006, the Pew Research Center found 62 percent of the public said addressing Medicare's financial problems should be a high priority for the government, but that still put it behind other priorities.[90] Surveys suggest that there's no public consensus behind any specific strategy to keep the program solvent.[91]
You can enroll in Medicare as soon as you meet the eligibility requirements. In Minnesota, you are allowed to enroll in Original Medicare three months before you turn 65 years of age, even if you are not retired or collecting benefits from Social Security. Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration usually enrolls you automatically in Original Medicare when you request Social Security benefits at age 65. It is advisable to postpone enrolling in Medicare Part B if you, or your spouse, have coverage through an employer or union. This will save you from paying Part B premiums while you have coverage. However, if you are eligible and choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B (even though you do not have coverage from a current employer), you will have to pay a ten percent penalty for each year that your enrollment is delayed.
A Medicare Advantage Health Plan (Medicare Part C) may provide more help at a lower cost than traditional Medicare plus Medigap. Instead of paying for Parts A, B and D, you enroll through a private insurance company that, in many cases, covers everything provided by Parts A, B and D and may offer additional services. You pay the Medicare Advantage premium along with your Part B premium in most cases.
We make every effort to show all available Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your service area. However, since our data is provided by Medicare, it is possible that this may not be a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.
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.
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.[75] and at what cost.[76] 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.
The Silver&Fit program is provided by American Specialty Health Fitness, Inc., a subsidiary of American Specialty Health Incorporated (ASH). Silver&Fit, the Silver&Fit logo and Something For Everyone are trademarks of ASH and used with permission herein. ASH is an independent company that is solely responsible for fitness services it is providing. American Specialty Health does not offer Blue Cross or Blue Shield products or services.

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.
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 made several changes to physician payments under Medicare. Firstly, it introduced the Medicare Fee Schedule, which took effect in 1992. Secondly, it limited the amount Medicare non-providers could balance bill Medicare beneficiaries. Thirdly, it introduced the Medicare Volume Performance Standards (MVPS) as a way to control costs.[53]
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote in 2008 that "future growth in spending per beneficiary for Medicare and Medicaid—the federal government's major health care programs—will be the most important determinant of long-term trends in federal spending. Changing those programs in ways that reduce the growth of costs—which will be difficult, in part because of the complexity of health policy choices—is ultimately the nation's central long-term challenge in setting federal fiscal policy."[81]
If you’ve been in in the Medicare Advantage plan for less than a year, you’re still in your trial period and you do have the option to enroll in a guaranteed issue Medigap plan when you switch back to Original Medicare; if you enrolled in Medicare Advantage when you were first eligible and are switching back to Original Medicare within a year, you can enroll in any Medigap plan sold in your state.  If you dropped your Medigap plan to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and you switch back within a year, you can enroll in the Medigap plan you had before, or if it’s no longer available, you can enroll in any plan A, B, C, F, K, or L sold in your state.
Initial Coverage Election Period: You can enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan when you first become eligible for Medicare. Your Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP), is a seven-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. If you are under age 65 and you receive Social Security disability, you qualify for Medicare in the 25th month after you begin receiving your Social Security benefits. If you fall into this category, you may enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan 3 months before your month of eligibility, during the month of eligibility, and 3 months after the month of eligibility. For example, if your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage begins in May, your Medicare Advantage plan ICEP is February through August.
The plan that was best for you over the past year may not be the best one next year. That may be because the drugs you take or the doctors you see have changed. Or it may be because the coverage has changed under your plan for next year—your drugs may be moving to a more expensive pricing tier with higher co-payments, or your doctors may be leaving your Medicare Advantage plan’s network. Or new plans may be introduced in your area that are a better match for you. Mutual of Omaha is entering the Part D market in several states, for example, and more insurers are introducing prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans with lower premiums. Because you can change plans every year, you can focus specifically on your drugs and dosages or the type of health care you need now; you can switch again next year if your needs or your options change.
California's Medicaid program Medi-Cal is a public health insurance program that provides free or low-cost health care coverage to low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, single adults and low income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. Medi-Cal pays for medical visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, pregnancy-related treatment, dental and eye care, and other medical services for individuals who do not have healthcare coverage.
Many look to the Veterans Health Administration as a model of lower cost prescription drug coverage. Since the VHA provides healthcare directly, it maintains its own formulary and negotiates prices with manufacturers. Studies show that the VHA pays dramatically less for drugs than the PDP plans Medicare Part D subsidizes.[135][136] One analysis found that adopting a formulary similar to the VHA's would save Medicare $14 billion a year (over 10 years the savings would be around $140 billion).[137]
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.
In 2013-14, an estimated 88% of California youth ages 12-17 received a routine health check-up within the past 12 months, up from about 77% in 2001. However, about 7% of all California children—and 10% of lower-income children—had no usual source of health care in 2013-14. Estimates by race/ethnicity ranged from 5% (multiracial and white) to 11% (African American/black) with no usual source of care. Among children who did have a regular source of care, the majority (63%) used a doctor’s office or HMO, rather than hospitals, clinics, urgent care, emergency rooms, or other settings. For children living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, only 48% used a doctor’s office or HMO, compared to 77% for children from higher-income families.
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.
In 2002, payment rates were cut by 4.8%. In 2003, payment rates were scheduled to be reduced by 4.4%. However, Congress boosted the cumulative SGR target in the Consolidated Appropriation Resolution of 2003 (P.L. 108-7), allowing payments for physician services to rise 1.6%. In 2004 and 2005, payment rates were again scheduled to be reduced. The Medicare Modernization Act (P.L. 108-173) increased payments 1.5% for those two years.
Medicare also has an important role driving changes in the entire health care system. Because Medicare pays for a huge share of health care in every region of the country, it has a great deal of power to set delivery and payment policies. For example, Medicare promoted the adaptation of prospective payments based on DRG's, which prevents unscrupulous providers from setting their own exorbitant prices.[77] Meanwhile, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has given Medicare the mandate to promote cost-containment throughout the health care system, for example, by promoting the creation of accountable care organizations or by replacing fee-for-service payments with bundled payments.[78]
Children with health insurance are more likely to receive needed medical care, are less likely to have costly hospitalizations, and tend to perform better in school than their uninsured peers (1). Providing quality, accessible, and affordable health care to all children requires comprehensive insurance coverage and an appropriately trained and compensated provider base including a sufficient number of subspecialists; it also requires effective systems of care including medical homes and parental understanding about what care is needed and how to obtain it (2, 3, 4). Immigrant children, especially those with undocumented parents or those who are themselves undocumented, are at particular risk of being uninsured and without regular health care (2, 5).
In December 2011, Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Oreg.) jointly proposed a new premium support system. Unlike Ryan's original plan, this new system would maintain traditional Medicare as an option, and the premium support would not be tied to inflation.[128] The spending targets in the Ryan-Wyden plan are the same as the targets included in the Affordable Care Act; it is unclear whether the plan would reduce Medicare expenditure relative to current law.[129]
Chemotherapy and other medications dispensed in a physician's office are reimbursed according to the Average Sales Price,[65] a number computed by taking the total dollar sales of a drug as the numerator and the number of units sold nationwide as the denominator.[66] The current reimbursement formula is known as "ASP+6" since it reimburses physicians at 106% of the ASP of drugs. Pharmaceutical company discounts and rebates are included in the calculation of ASP, and tend to reduce it. In addition, Medicare pays 80% of ASP+6, which is the equivalent of 84.8% of the actual average cost of the drug. Some patients have supplemental insurance or can afford the co-pay. Large numbers do not. This leaves the payment to physicians for most of the drugs in an "underwater" state. ASP+6 superseded Average Wholesale Price in 2005,[67] after a 2003 front-page New York Times article drew attention to the inaccuracies of Average Wholesale Price calculations.[68]

You’re eligible for Medicare if you’re age 65 or older, receiving disability benefits, or have certain conditions, like end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). You must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five years. In some instances, you may not have to take any action in order to enroll. This may happen if you’re turning 65 and already receive Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.

Beneficiaries are primarily defaulted because they do not receive the enrollment packet, they do not understand the information because it was sent in English and they speak another language, or they submitted an incomplete enrollment form. Some are defaulted due to administrative and processing errors. Beneficiaries that are defaulted are not prevented from later choosing a health plan of their choice.
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.
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.

When you apply for Medicare, you can sign up for Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). Because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you can turn it down. However, if you decide to enroll in Part B later on, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Part B coverage. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.

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