Applicants have two primary options for completing applications. Any Social Security office can help applicants register for Medicare. It is most common for applicants to apply online. Applicants that are wondering how to apply for Medicare online will be happy to know that the process is not too difficult. On average, it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete an online application. The Medicare application requires a few documents that applicants will want to have on hand. When filling out a MN Medicare enrollment application, enrollees will have to provide an official document that has their date and place of birth on it. The next piece of information that applicants will need concerns their past insurance. If they were on Medicaid they will need to list their state insurance number and the start and end dates of that particular coverage. Applicants that receive insurance from another source, such as from their spouse, will have to list this as well. If you missed your enrollment signup date and wish to be covered by affordable private insurance, call our toll-free number for a free quote.
Medicare differs from private insurance available to working Americans in that it is a social insurance program. Social insurance programs provide statutorily guaranteed benefits to the entire population (under certain circumstances, such as old age or unemployment). These benefits are financed in significant part through universal taxes. In effect, Medicare is a mechanism by which the state takes a portion of its citizens' resources to guarantee health and financial security to its citizens in old age or in case of disability, helping them cope with the enormous, unpredictable cost of health care. In its universality, Medicare differs substantially from private insurers, which must decide whom to cover and what benefits to offer to manage their risk pools and guarantee their costs don't exceed premiums.[citation needed]

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.
If you meet the requirements for both Medicare and Medicaid (aka, dual eligible or Medi-Medi) in Minnesota, you will automatically receive a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, as well as Extra Help from Social Security. If you qualify for Extra Help, the program will cover most of the costs of your prescriptions. Even if you qualify, the dual eligible option may not suit your needs. In this case, enroll in the prescription drug plan of your choice. If you receive Medicaid now, call your local Medicaid office for assistance with your dual eligible benefits.

The Annual Election Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. You can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan at this time, and make other coverage changes. If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch plans, in most cases a good time to do so is during the Annual Election Period.  When you change Medicare plans during the Annual Election Period, your new coverage generally begins on January 1 of the following year.

Congress also attempted to reduce payments to public Part C Medicare health plans by aligning the rules that establish Part C plans' capitated fees more closely with the FFS paid for comparable care to "similar beneficiaries" under Parts A and B of Medicare. Primarily these reductions involved much discretion on the part of CMS and examples of what CMS did included effectively ending a Part C program Congress had previously initiated to increase the use of Part C in rural areas (the so-called Part C PFFS plan) and reducing over time a program that encouraged employers and unions to create their own Part C plans not available to the general Medicare beneficiary base (so-called Part C EGWP plans) by providing higher reimbursement. These two types of Part C plans had been identified by MedPAC as the programs that most negatively affected parity between the cost of Medicare beneficiaries on Parts A/B/C and the costs of beneficiaries not on Parts A/B/C. These efforts to reach parity have been more than successful. As of 2015, all beneficiaries on A/B/C cost 4% less per person than all beneficiaries not on A/B/C. But whether that is because the cost of the former decreased or the cost of the latter increased is not known.
Unlike Original Medicare, if you want prescription drug benefits (Medicare Part D), you shouldn’t enroll in a separate Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Instead, you can get this benefit through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. Not every Medicare Advantage plan includes prescription drug coverage, so always double-check with the specific plan you’re considering.
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.
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.
Public Part C Medicare Advantage health plan members typically usually also pay a monthly premium in addition to the Medicare Part B premium to cover items not covered by traditional Medicare (Parts A & B), such as the OOP limit, self-administered prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, annual physicals, coverage outside the United States, and even gym or health club memberships as well as—and probably most importantly—reduce the 20% co-pays and high deductibles associated with Original Medicare.[43] But in some situations the benefits are more limited (but they can never be more limited than Original Medicare and must always include an OOP limit) and there is no premium. In some cases, the sponsor even rebates part or all of the Part B premium, though these types of Part C plans are becoming rare.
The SGR was the subject of possible reform legislation again in 2014. On March 14, 2014, the United States House of Representatives passed the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4015; 113th Congress), a bill that would have replaced the (SGR) formula with new systems for establishing those payment rates.[56] However, the bill would pay for these changes by delaying the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate requirement, a proposal that was very unpopular with Democrats.[57] The SGR was expected to cause Medicare reimbursement cuts of 24 percent on April 1, 2014, if a solution to reform or delay the SGR was not found.[58] This led to another bill, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302; 113th Congress), which would delay those cuts until March 2015.[58] This bill was also controversial. The American Medical Association and other medical groups opposed it, asking Congress to provide a permanent solution instead of just another delay.[59]
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.
On September 12, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new partnership with the State of Minnesota to test new ways of improving care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. Building on the state's Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) program, CMS and Minnesota will work together to improve the beneficiary experience in health plans that maintain contracts with both CMS as Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans and with the state to deliver Medicaid services.   
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]
Some applicants might be able to apply during a special enrollment period. A special enrollment period applies to any applicants who did not register for Medicare in MN because they previously had insurance from some other source, such as a job or a spouse. If they end up unexpectedly losing that other insurance source, they are able to appeal for a special enrollment period.
Our Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred HMO plans are Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) that offer comprehensive medical coverage beyond Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A & B). Our Medicare Advantage Plans use a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) approach where you choose your Primary Care Physician (PCP) who coordinates all of your health care services. We have over 2,000 PCPs to choose from and if you don't currently have a PCP our representatives can help you find one that will meet all your needs. 
The most common types of Medicare Advantage plans are health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, which accounted for the majority of total Medicare Advantage enrollments in 2017, preferred provider organization (PPO) plans, private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans and special needs plans (SNPS). The basic qualifications to join one of these plans are living in the plan’s service area, having Medicare Parts A and B, and not having end-stage renal disease. HMO point-of-service (HMOPOS) plans and medical savings account (MSA) plans are less common.
Special Election Period: Generally, once you enroll into a Medicare Advantage plan, you stay enrolled in the plan until the next Annual Election Period (AEP) opens. However, there are some life events that might qualify you for a Special Election Period (SEP) during other times of the year, so you can make a change to your Medicare Advantage coverage. Some examples of these life events include (but aren’t limited to):

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.
As a result, an estimated 320,000 Medicare Cost enrollees in Minnesota need new coverage for 2019. There are 21 counties where Medicare Cost plans will continue to be available, but Medicare Cost enrollees in the remaining counties cannot keep their Cost plans. Instead, they can either enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (some will be automatically enrollees in a comparable Medicare Advantage plan, although they’ll have an option to pick something else instead), or select a Medigap plan to supplement their Original Medicare (enrollees whose Medicare Cost plans are ending have guaranteed issue rights to a Medigap plan, so they can purchase one even if they have pre-existing medical conditions).
For doctors and medical procedures (Part B) at the hospital and at home: You would pay 20% of all costs after meeting your $147 deductible. Unlike many other health insurance policies, there is no cap or maximum out-of-pocket amount on what you could owe. The American Heart Association says that the average cost of heart surgery is $62,509 – in that case, your Part B copay would be over $12,000. 
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]
Since 1997, Minnesota has provided Medicare coverage for approximately 35,000 Medicare-Medicaid eligible individuals over age 65 through the Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) program. Today, the Minnesota demonstration recognizes this program stability and is focused on administrative flexibility rather than developing a new capitated system. The current demonstration will be evaluated for its ability to further promote integration. However, the longevity of the MSHO program provides for unique data analysis opportunities. MSHO claims data are a rich resource for researchers to analyze the impact of integrated care on health care outcomes for Medicare-Medicaid eligible.  To that end, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) published Minnesota Managed Care Longitudinal Data Analysis which highlights the importance of providing integrated options for Medicare-Medicaid eligible individuals. It may be found at this link: https://aspe.hhs.gov/report/minnesota-managed-care-longitudinal-data-analysis
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.
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]

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.
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Medicare contracts with regional insurance companies to process over one billion fee-for-service claims per year. In 2008, Medicare accounted for 13% ($386 billion) of the federal budget. In 2016 it is projected to account for close to 15% ($683 billion) of the total expenditures. For the decade 2010–2019 Medicare is projected to cost 6.4 trillion dollars.[51]
The PPACA instituted a number of measures to control Medicare fraud and abuse, such as longer oversight periods, provider screenings, stronger standards for certain providers, the creation of databases to share data between federal and state agencies, and stiffer penalties for violators. The law also created mechanisms, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to fund experiments to identify new payment and delivery models that could conceivably be expanded to reduce the cost of health care while improving quality.[87]
Part B coverage includes out patient physician services, visiting nurse, and other services such as x-rays, laboratory and diagnostic tests, influenza and pneumonia vaccinations, blood transfusions, renal dialysis, outpatient hospital procedures, limited ambulance transportation, immunosuppressive drugs for organ transplant recipients, chemotherapy, hormonal treatments such as Lupron, and other outpatient medical treatments administered in a doctor's office. It also includes chiropractic care. Medication administration is covered under Part B if it is administered by the physician during an office visit.
You will pay one-half of the cost-sharing of some covered services until you reach the annual out-of-pocket limit of $5240 each calendar year. However, this limit does NOT include charges from your provider that exceed Medicare-approved amounts (these are called “Excess Charges”) and you will be responsible for paying this difference in the amount charged by your provider and the amount paid by Medicare for the item or service.

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.


Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) - Part B helps cover doctors' services and outpatient care. It also covers some other medical services that Part A doesn't cover, such as some of the services of physical and occupational therapists, and some home health care. Part B helps pay for these covered services and supplies when they are medically necessary. Most people pay a monthly premium for Part B.
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