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.
In 1977, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) was established as a federal agency responsible for the administration of Medicare and Medicaid. This would be renamed to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2001. By 1983, the diagnosis-related group (DRG) replaced pay for service reimbursements to hospitals for Medicare patients.
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)
There can be many benefits to Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C. Perhaps you prefer the convenience of having all of your health and drug benefits under a single plan, instead of enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for your Medicare Part D coverage. Or you may be looking for extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as routine vision and dental coverage.
Medicare has been operated for a half century and, during that time, has undergone several changes. Since 1965, the program's provisions have expanded to include benefits for speech, physical, and chiropractic therapy in 1972.[12] Medicare added the option of payments to health maintenance organizations (HMO)[12] in the 1980s. As the years progressed, Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people with permanent disabilities and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and to those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The association with HMOs begun in the 1980s was formalized under President Bill Clinton in 1997 as Medicare Part C (although not all Part C health plans sponsors have to be HMOs, about 75% are). In 2003, under President George W. Bush, a Medicare program for covering almost all self administered prescription drugs was passed (and went into effect in 2006) as Medicare Part D (previously and still, professionally administered drugs such as chemotherapy but even the annual flu shot are covered under Part B).
Overall health care costs were projected in 2011 to increase by 5.8 percent annually from 2010 to 2020, in part because of increased utilization of medical services, higher prices for services, and new technologies.[82] Health care costs are rising across the board, but the cost of insurance has risen dramatically for families and employers as well as the federal government. In fact, since 1970 the per-capita cost of private coverage has grown roughly one percentage point faster each year than the per-capita cost of Medicare. Since the late 1990s, Medicare has performed especially well relative to private insurers.[83] Over the next decade, Medicare's per capita spending is projected to grow at a rate of 2.5 percent each year, compared to private insurance's 4.8 percent.[84] Nonetheless, most experts and policymakers agree containing health care costs is essential to the nation's fiscal outlook. Much of the debate over the future of Medicare revolves around whether per capita costs should be reduced by limiting payments to providers or by shifting more costs to Medicare enrollees.
Health Care Options is responsible for educating Medi-Cal recipients about their benefits and how to enroll in a health plan. Beneficiaries needing further assistance or who have questions can contact Health Care Options at 1 (800) 430-4263 (or TDD for the hard of hearing: 1 (800) 430-7077). Beneficiaries may also contact Care1st Health Plan 1-800-605-2556 or their doctor’s office and receive assistance with completing the enrollment form.
Another wrinkle is that people who want a supplement might have a better chance of getting into the coverage during the transition out of their Medicare Cost plan, when the supplement is provided on a “guaranteed issue” basis. Later, insurance companies can ask questions about a senior’s health status and deny coverage depending on the answers, said Greiner of the Minnesota Board on Aging.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans: Medicare Advantage PPO plans offer a network of doctors and hospitals for beneficiaries to choose from. Unlike an HMO, you have the option to receive care from health-care providers outside of the plan’s network, but you’ll pay higher out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Advantage PPOs don’t require you to have a primary care doctor, and you don’t need referrals for specialist care.

If you are enrolled in a Medicare plan with Part D prescription drug coverage, you may be eligible for financial Extra Help to assist with the payment of your prescription drug premiums and drug purchases. To see if you qualify for Extra Help, call: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov; the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or your state Medicaid Office.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: One of the most popular types of managed-care plans, this type of Medicare Advantage plan comes with a provider network that you must use to be covered by the plan (with the exception of medical emergencies). If you use non-network providers, you may have to pay the full cost for your care. You’re also required to have a primary care physician; if you need to see a specialist, you’ll need to a get a referral from your primary care doctor first.
If you have coverage through your employer, the company will probably offer you coverage again in 2018. Talk to your Human Resources department or benefits administrator to learn about what you need to do. If your employer is not offering coverage, you will have to buy a plan on your own to avoid paying a penalty. Learn more about how to compare health insurance plans using our guide.
You can apply online on CoveredCA.com. This single application will let you know if you qualify for coverage through Covered California or Medi-Cal. You can also apply in person at your local county human services agency or by phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506. If you need help applying or have questions, you can Find Help for free. Find a certified enroller in your area.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which the Affordable Care Act or "ACA" created, will use this measure to determine whether it must recommend to Congress proposals to reduce Medicare costs. Under the ACA, Congress established maximum targets, or thresholds, for per-capita Medicare spending growth. For the five-year periods ending in 2015 through 2019, these targets are based on the average of CPI-U and CPI-M. For the five-year periods ending in 2020 and subsequent years, these targets are based on per-capita GDP growth plus one percentage point.[87] Each year, the CMS Office of the Actuary must compare those two values, and if the spending measure is larger than the economic measure, IPAB must propose cost-savings recommendations for consideration in Congress on an expedited basis. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare per-capita spending growth will not exceed the economic target at any time between 2015 and 2021.[88]
One of the reasons Medicare Cost is so popular in Minnesota is that the state has a large population of “snowbirds” — retirees who live in Minnesota during the summer, but head south to warmer climes in the winter. With Medicare Cost plans, the enrollee still has Original Medicare — including the large nationwide network of providers who work with Medicare — in addition to the Medicare Cost coverage. Medicare Advantage plans, in contrast, tend to have localized networks that might not be suitable for a senior who lives in two different states during the year. A Medigap plan plus Original Medicare will allow a person in that situation to have access to health providers in both locations, although Medigap tends to be more expensive than Medicare Advantage. There are pros and cons to both options, and no one-size-fits-all solution.
There are some exceptions where you may be able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan even if you have end-stage renal disease. For example, if you’re enrolling in a Special Needs Plan that targets beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease, you may be eligible to enroll in this type of Medicare Advantage plan. To learn more about other situations where you may be eligible for Medicare Part C if you have end-stage renal disease, you can contact eHealth to speak with a licensed insurance agent and get your questions answered. You can also contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227); 24 hours a day, seven days a week. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
Some have questioned the ability of the federal government to achieve greater savings than the largest PDPs, since some of the larger plans have coverage pools comparable to Medicare's, though the evidence from the VHA is promising. Some also worry that controlling the prices of prescription drugs would reduce incentives for manufacturers to invest in R&D, though the same could be said of anything that would reduce costs.[136]

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.

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.
Part B – After beneficiaries meet the yearly deductible of $183.00 for 2017, they will be required to pay a co-insurance of 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for all services covered by Part B with the exception of most lab services, which are covered at 100%—and outpatient mental health, which is currently (2010–2011) covered at 55% (45% copay). The copay for outpatient mental health, which started at 50%, is gradually decreasing over several years until it matches the 20% required for other services. They are also required to pay an excess charge of 15% for services rendered by physicians who do not accept assignment.
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.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which the Affordable Care Act or "ACA" created, will use this measure to determine whether it must recommend to Congress proposals to reduce Medicare costs. Under the ACA, Congress established maximum targets, or thresholds, for per-capita Medicare spending growth. For the five-year periods ending in 2015 through 2019, these targets are based on the average of CPI-U and CPI-M. For the five-year periods ending in 2020 and subsequent years, these targets are based on per-capita GDP growth plus one percentage point.[87] Each year, the CMS Office of the Actuary must compare those two values, and if the spending measure is larger than the economic measure, IPAB must propose cost-savings recommendations for consideration in Congress on an expedited basis. The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare per-capita spending growth will not exceed the economic target at any time between 2015 and 2021.[88]

Enrollment in the public Part C health plan program, including plans called Medicare Advantage since 2005, grew from zero in 1997 (not counting the pre-Part C demonstration projects) to over 21 million in 2018.[4] That 21,000,000-plus represents about 35% of the people on Medicare. But today over half the people fully signing up for Medicare for the first time, are choosing a public Part C plan of some type.


So, is a Medicare Advantage plan right for you? And, should you get one with or without prescription drug coverage? The decision probably depends on your particular situation. I can work with you to get answers. Learn more about me by viewing my profile using the “View profile” link below. Or, use one of the links below to request a time to meet with me by phone or an email with personalized information for you. Compare the Medicare Advantage plans that you might be eligible for by clicking on the Compare Plans buttons on this page.
Over the long-term, Medicare faces significant financial challenges because of rising overall health care costs, increasing enrollment as the population ages, and a decreasing ratio of workers to enrollees. Total Medicare spending is projected to increase from $523 billion in 2010 to around $900 billion by 2020. From 2010 to 2030, Medicare enrollment is projected to increase from 47 million to 79 million, and the ratio of workers to enrollees is expected to decrease from 3.7 to 2.4.[79] However, the ratio of workers to retirees has declined steadily for decades, and social insurance systems have remained sustainable due to rising worker productivity. There is some evidence that productivity gains will continue to offset demographic trends in the near future.[80]
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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