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):
Promoting collaboration across sectors—health, education, social services, and others—to improve prevention, early intervention, and treatment services for children, and supporting a comprehensive approach to health care that goes beyond treating illness to addressing community factors that impact health, such as access to healthy food or safe housing; this could help reduce health inequities at the population level and lower costs related to preventable conditions (8, 9)
Medicare Part D is optional prescription drug coverage. If you have Original Medicare, you can get this coverage through a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, offered through private Medicare-approved insurance companies. These plans offer stand-alone prescription drug coverage that work alongside Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. A Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan also provides the Medicare Part D benefit, covering all Medicare benefits under a single plan.
Medi-Cal offers low-cost or free health coverage to eligible Californian residents with limited income. Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace where Californians can shop for health plans and access financial assistance if they qualify for it. Health plans available through Medi-Cal and Covered California both offer a similar set of important benefits, called essential health benefits.
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]
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: These plans offer a network of doctors and hospitals that members are generally required to use to be covered. Because of this, HMOs tend to have strict guidelines, meaning that any visits and prescriptions are subject to the plan approval. If you use providers outside of the plan network, you may need to pay the full cost out of pocket (with the exception of emergency or urgent care). You generally need to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist.

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.


It’s up to you to determine which type of coverage is the right option. It’s important to read all of the details of each Medicare Advantage plan, including the fine print, and compare the different benefits, costs, and restrictions of each plan option available in your area. If you have a specific doctor or hospital that you want to use, be sure to check that they’re included in the network of the Medicare Advantage plan that you’re interested in.
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.

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
The Medicare-Choices email list is designed to help health insurance counselors, volunteers, attorneys, providers, consumers or other interested parties find resources, receive up-to-date information about Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage, Medical Assistance, Minnesota Long-term Care Partnership or other related public or private benefits.

In general, all persons 65 years of age or older who have been legal residents of the United States for at least five years are eligible for Medicare. People with disabilities under 65 may also be eligible if they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Specific medical conditions may also help people become eligible to enroll in Medicare.

Medicare co-pays in Minnesota refer to how much a beneficiary has to pay for certain services. The co-pay is always a set price, no matter how much the service actually cost. Each Medicare plan will have different co-pays, both in terms of payment as well as what Medicare covered services actually requires as a co-pay. A deductible is how much a beneficiary has to pay before their Medicare coverage kicks in. With Medicare Part A and B coverage in MN, the deductible is around $160.


Part A covers inpatient hospital stays where the beneficiary has been formally admitted to the hospital, including semi-private room, food, and tests. As of January 1, 2018, Medicare Part A has an inpatient hospital deductible of $1340, coinsurance per day as $335 after 61 days confinement within one "spell of illness", coinsurance for "lifetime reserve days" (essentially, days 91-150) of $670 per day, and coinsurance in an Skilled Nursing Facility (following a medically necessary hospital confinement of 3 night in row or more) for days 21-100 of $167.50 per day (up to 20 days of SNF confinement have no co-pay) These amounts increase or decrease yearly on 1st day of the year.[citation needed]
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.

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]
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]

This information is not a complete description of benefits. Call 1-866-405-8762 (TTY: 711) for more information. Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under no obligation to treat UPMC for Life members, except in emergency situations. Please call our customer service number or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost-sharing that applies to out-of-network services. Other physicians/providers are available in the UPMC for Life network.


This measure involves only Part A. The trust fund is considered insolvent when available revenue plus any existing balances will not cover 100 percent of annual projected costs. According to the latest estimate by the Medicare trustees (2016), the trust fund is expected to become insolvent in 11 years (2028), at which time available revenue will cover 87 percent of annual projected costs.[85] Since Medicare began, this solvency projection has ranged from two to 28 years, with an average of 11.3 years.[86]

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 renamed +Choice "Medicare Advantage".[3] Other managed Medicare plans include (non-capitated) COST plans, dual-eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) plans and PACE plans (which try to keep seniors that need custodial care in their homes). However 97% of the beneficiaries in Part C are in one of the roughly one dozen types of Medicare Advantage plans (HMO, EGWP, SNP, regional PPO, etc.), primarily in classic vanilla HMOs.[citation needed]
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.
Because the federal government is legally obligated to provide Medicare benefits to older and disabled Americans, it cannot cut costs by restricting eligibility or benefits, except by going through a difficult legislative process, or by revising its interpretation of medical necessity. By statute, Medicare may only pay for items and services that are "reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of illness or injury or to improve the functioning of a malformed body member", unless there is another statutory authorization for payment.[72] Cutting costs by cutting benefits is difficult, but the program can also achieve substantial economies of scale in terms of the prices it pays for health care and administrative expenses—and, as a result, private insurers' costs have grown almost 60% more than Medicare's since 1970.[citation needed][Original research?][73] Medicare's cost growth is now the same as GDP growth and expected to stay well below private insurance's for the next decade.[74]

The MedicareWire.com website is available for educational purposes. Our goal is to present information about Medicare Prescription Plans accurately and without bias, based on our interpretation of factual information. However, this site is not intended as a substitute for legal, health, or financial advice from a licensed professional. On this page we help consumers:
Notice: When your Medicare Part A hospital benefits are exhausted, the insurer stands in the place of Medicare and will pay whatever amount Medicare would have paid for up to an additional 365  days as provided in the policy’s “Core Benefits.” During this time the hospital is prohibited from billing you for the balance based on any difference between its billed charges and the amount Medicare would have paid.

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]
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.
If you are uninsured and are not eligible for Medi-Cal or a plan through Covered California, you may qualify for limited health services offered by your county. These programs are not insurance plans and do not provide full coverage. County health programs are commonly known as “county indigent health” or programs “medically indigent adult” programs.
Part A's inpatient admitted hospital and skilled nursing coverage is largely funded by revenue from a 2.9% payroll tax levied on employers and workers (each pay 1.45%). Until December 31, 1993, the law provided a maximum amount of compensation on which the Medicare tax could be imposed annually, in the same way that the Social Security tax works in the US.[17] Beginning on January 1, 1994, the compensation limit was removed. Self-employed individuals must pay the entire 2.9% tax on self-employed net earnings (because they are both employee and employer), but they may deduct half of the tax from the income in calculating income tax.[18] Beginning in 2013, the rate of Part A tax on earned income exceeding US$200,000 for individuals (US$250,000 for married couples filing jointly) rose to 3.8%, in order to pay part of the cost of the subsidies mandated by the Affordable Care Act.[19]
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