If you don’t want to renew your current health insurance plan, you can choose a new plan for 2018. Medical Mutual and other insurers offer a number of subsidy-eligible and non-subsidy-eligible health plans for you to consider.  If you are eligible for a federal subsidy, you can also shop for plans on the public Marketplace. You can also enroll in a plan directly through Medical Mutual.

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.
Managed Health Network (MHN), a Health Net company, will replace Optum Behavioral Health as administrator of UC Blue & Gold HMO’s behavioral health benefits, effective Jan. 1, 2019. MHN will continue as the administrator of behavioral health benefits for Health Net Seniority Plus. For questions about the behavioral health transition, and about support available to you if your behavioral health provider is not part of MHN’s network, call MHN at 800-663-9355.
Because of how Part D works, you could pay as much as 72% of the cost of some of your prescription drugs if you need enough medication to push you into the notorious doughnut hole: when Part D's full prescription-drug coverage runs out after you've spent $2,850, until your medication costs exceed $4,550 per year. In 2015, coverage will end at $2,960 and begin again at $4,700. During the coverage gap, you'll be responsible for 47.5% of covered, brand-named prescription drugs. In 2015, that will change to 45%.
AARP and its affiliates are not insurers. AARP does not employ or endorse agents, producers or brokers. AARP Member Advantages is the name for a collection of products, services and insurance programs available to AARP members from trusted third parties. AARP member benefits, including all goods, services and discounts on this site, are provided by third parties, not by AARP and its affiliates. Providers pay a royalty fee to AARP for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. Provider offers are subject to change and may have restrictions. Please contact the provider directly for details.
Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans: These plans combine a high-deductible Medicare Advantage plan with a medical savings account. Every year, your MSA plan deposits money into a savings account that you can use to pay for medical expenses before you’ve reach the deductible. After your reach the deductible, your plan will begin to pay for Medicare-covered services. These plans don’t cover prescription drugs; if you want Medicare Part D coverage, you may enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

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Evidence is mixed on how quality and access compare between Medicare Advantage and "traditional" Medicare.[17] ("traditional" in quotes because it is not the same as Original Medicare; everyone in Medicare must begin by joining Original Medicare; the term "traditional" typically refers to FFS and almost always means the beneficiary has a private group or individually purchased supplement to Original Medicare). Most research suggests that enrollees in Medicare HMOs tend to receive more preventative services than beneficiaries in traditional Medicare; however, beneficiaries, especially those in poorer health, tend to rate the quality and access to care in traditional Medicare more favorably than in Medicare Advantage. It is difficult to generalize the results of studies across all plans participating in the program because performance on quality and access metrics varies widely across the types of Medicare Advantage plans and among the dozens of providers of Medicare Advantage plans.
Since the Medicare program began, the CMS (that was not always the name of the responsible bureaucracy) has contracted with private insurance companies to operate as intermediaries between the government and medical providers to administer Part A and Part B benefits. Contracted processes include claims and payment processing, call center services, clinician enrollment, and fraud investigation. Beginning in 1997 and 2005, respectively, these, along with other insurance companies and other companies or organizations (such as integrated health delivery systems or unions), also began administering Part C and Part D plans.
There is some evidence that claims of Medigap's tendency to cause over-treatment may be exaggerated and that potential savings from restricting it might be smaller than expected.[158] Meanwhile, there are some concerns about the potential effects on enrollees. Individuals who face high charges with every episode of care have been shown to delay or forgo needed care, jeopardizing their health and possibly increasing their health care costs down the line.[159] Given their lack of medical training, most patients tend to have difficulty distinguishing between necessary and unnecessary treatments. The problem could be exaggerated among the Medicare population, which has low levels of health literacy.[full citation needed]
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.
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.

These coverage gaps mean that a particularly bad health year could leave you with tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills. That's why most people purchase  Medicare supplement insurance – also called Medigap – or enroll in Part C, a Medicare Advantage Health Plan. Both options are offered by private insurance companies. They do, however, have to follow Medicare guidelines in what they are allowed to sell.


Medicare prescription drug coverage — called Medicare Part D — was the result of legislation passed in 2003 and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006. It is a bit of a controversial program because it was an unfunded liability — meaning that the vast majority of costs fell on taxpayers — and the law also barred Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices with drug makers. But by the end of its first decade, Medicare Part D was providing coverage for almost three quarters of all eligible Medicare beneficiaries, including those who have Part D coverage as part of their Medicare Advantage plan).
Your information and use of this site is governed by our updated Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. By entering your name and information above and clicking the Call Me button, you are consenting to receive calls or emails regarding your Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance, and Prescription Drug Plan options (at any phone number or email address you provide) from an eHealth representative or one of our licensed insurance agent business partners, and you agree such calls may use an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver messages even if you are on a government do-not-call registry. This agreement is not a condition of enrollment.
Minnesota is one of just three states in the country (Massachusetts and Wisconsin are the others) that offers its own version of Medicare Supplement insurance. Minnesota has two plans available: the Minnesota Basic Plan and the Minnesota Extended Basic Plan. In  most other states, up to 10 types of standardized plans are available. Medicare Supplement plans are also known as Medigap policies and may help pay Original Medicare out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments and deductibles.
Remember, Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits that are not offered in Original Medicare coverage. Beneficiaries who need prescription drug coverage may prefer the convenience of having all of their Medicare coverage included under a single plan, instead of enrolling in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for Medicare Part D coverage. However, every person’s situation is different, so it’s a good idea to review your specific health needs, and compare Medicare Advantage plans in your area to find a plan option that best suits your needs.
Two distinct premium support systems have recently been proposed in Congress to control the cost of Medicare. The House Republicans' 2012 budget would have abolished traditional Medicare and required the eligible population to purchase private insurance with a newly created premium support program. This plan would have cut the cost of Medicare by capping the value of the voucher and tying its growth to inflation, which is expected to be lower than rising health costs, saving roughly $155 billion over 10 years.[125] Paul Ryan, the plan's author, claimed that competition would drive down costs,[126] but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the plan would dramatically raise the cost of health care, with all of the additional costs falling on enrollees. The CBO found that under the plan, typical 65-year-olds would go from paying 35 percent of their health care costs to paying 68 percent by 2030.[127]
If you enroll in one right out of the gate at age 65, you need to be sure you want this coverage long-term. Your open enrollment window to get a Medigap plan with no health questions ends at 6 months past your Part B effective date. You might not be able to get a Medigap plan later if you have health conditions because applying for Medigap later will require you answer medical questions. You can be turned down for Medigap at that point if you are not healthy enough to qualify.
Once you submit your application, it will be sent to your local county human services agency for a determination if you seem likely to qualify for Medi-Cal. If more information is needed, the county will contact you. During the next 45 days, the county will mail you a notice telling you if you qualify for Medi-Cal. If you are eligible, you will receive a Medi-Cal benefits identification card (BIC) in the mail (if you do not already have one). You will also receive an informational packet in the mail that explains the available Medi-Cal health plan options in your county and how to enroll.
While the majority of providers accept Medicare assignments, (97 percent for some specialties),[61] and most physicians still accept at least some new Medicare patients, that number is in decline.[62] While 80% of physicians in the Texas Medical Association accepted new Medicare patients in 2000, only 60% were doing so by 2012.[63] A study published in 2012 concluded that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) relies on the recommendations of an American Medical Association advisory panel. The study led by Dr. Miriam J. Laugesen, of Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues at UCLA and the University of Illinois, shows that for services provided between 1994 and 2010, CMS agreed with 87.4% of the recommendations of the committee, known as RUC or the Relative Value Update Committee.[64]
Just to make life truly confusing, the various options offered by Medigap are also sorted by letter. Your choices are Plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M and N. What these plans include is standardized by Medicare. What you pay for them can vary, however, so it's worth shopping around. Joseph Graves, insurance agent and Founder of “I Hate Buying Insurance,” says many people enroll in Plan F, the most expensive choice, because it covers nearly all the gaps. A person with Plan F coverage will have few or no out-of-pocket expenses. A healthy person living in Florida would pay about $289 per month for Plan F coverage as of 2014, according to Graves.

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]
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.
Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are run by private insurance companies and combine Medicare Parts A (hospital coverage) and B (doctor coverage) plus additional benefits all in one plan. Many plans also include prescription drug coverage and are known as MA-PD or Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drug plans. Medicare Advantage plans may come with no additional premium beyond what you already pay for Medicare Part B. To be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must have Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium each month, unless it is otherwise paid for under Medicaid or by another party.
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]
Final decisions haven’t been made on exactly which counties in Minnesota will lose Cost plans next year, the government said. But based on current figures, insurance companies expect that Cost plans are going away in 66 counties across the state including those in the Twin Cities metro. They are expected to continue in 21 counties, carriers said, plus North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
One benefit of Medicare Advantage plans is that you can get your prescription drug benefits (Medicare Part D) included under the same plan, instead of having to enroll in a separate stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. Also known as Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans, these plans give you the convenience of having your Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D coverage through a single plan. If you want prescription drug benefits, you should get it through a Medicare Advantage plan that includes this coverage; you shouldn’t enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, which typically works with Original Medicare.
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.
Minnesota Medicare claims are generally not filed by beneficiaries. MN Medicare claim forms must often be filed out by doctors and medical providers. A Medicare claim can be made within a year of first receiving the provided service. It is still possible to file claims after this time period, but Medicare is in no way legally obligated to make any payments. Beneficiaries might get lucky, especially if there were extenuating circumstances for why they were unable to file a Medicare claim in the first place.
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]

A number of different plans have been introduced that would raise the age of Medicare eligibility.[126][130][131][132] Some have argued that, as the population ages and the ratio of workers to retirees increases, programs for the elderly need to be reduced. Since the age at which Americans can retire with full Social Security benefits is rising to 67, it is argued that the age of eligibility for Medicare should rise with it (though people can begin receiving reduced Social Security benefits as early as age 62).


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]
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. 

ACA provided bonus payments to plans with ratings of 4 (out of 5) stars or more. The Obama administration launched an $8.35 billion demonstration project in 2012 that increased the size of the bonus payments and increased the number of plans receiving bonus payments, providing bonus payments to the majority of Medicare Advantage plans.[6] According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this demonstration project cost more than the previous 85 demonstration projects beginning in 1995 combined.[7]

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.
Annual Election Period: The Annual Election Period (AEP) is October 15 through December 7 every year. The plan coverage you choose during the AEP begins on January 1 of the next year. It allows Medicare beneficiaries to add, change, or drop their current coverage. You can use this period to enroll into a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan or switch plans. If you’re already enrolled into a Medicare plan, you can use this period to disenroll from your plan.
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 Minnesota Department of Commerce: provides beneficiaries with information about Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans and other insurance options available to them. The office is a resource for information about protection from Medicare fraud and how to report fraud. Additional links are included for federal offices that deal with Medicare and brochures that explain how to enroll in Part D Prescription Drug Plans. This government office also offers downloads of premium guides for supplemental plans available to current Medicare beneficiaries in Minnesota.
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).
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