Minnesota Medicare Part A and B always will have the same enrollment periods because they come from the government. Medicare Part D will usually follow the set enrollment periods. Some MN Medicare Part C plans will use different times, so it is important that applicants check the enrollment periods on any plan that comes from a private insurance provider. Many applicants are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and sometimes Part B. When this happens, potential beneficiaries are told when they are first notified about their Medicare eligibility.

Medicare Advantage plans are required to offer a benefit "package" that is at least equal to Original Medicare's and cover everything Medicare covers, but they may cover benefits in a different way. For example, plans that require higher out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare for some benefits, such as skilled nursing facility care, might offer lower copayments for doctor visits to balance their benefits package.[11] CMS limits the extent to which plans' cost-sharing can vary from that of Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans that receive "rebates" or quality-based bonus payments are required to use the money to provide benefits not covered by Original Medicare.
Medicare is further divided into parts A and B—Medicare Part A covers hospital (inpatient, formally admitted only), skilled nursing (only after being formally admitted for three days and not for custodial care), and hospice services; Part B covers outpatient services including some providers services while inpatient at a hospital. Part D covers self-administered prescription drugs. Part C is an alternative called Managed Medicare by the Trustees that allows patients to choose plans with at least the same benefits as Parts A and B (but most often more), often the benefits of Part D, and always an annual out of pocket spend limit which A and B lack; the beneficiary must enroll in Parts A and B first before signing up for Part C.[3]
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.
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]
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.
Choice: Medicare Advantage plans generally limit you to the doctors and facilities within the HMO or PPO, and may or may not cover any out-of-network care. Traditional Medicare and Medigap policies cover you if you go to any doctor or facility that accepts Medicare. If you require particular specialists or hospitals, check whether they are covered by the plan you select.
If you received an error when returning to your Online Benefit Application on or after September 29, you can reenter your saved application by creating or signing in to your my Social Security account. Additionally, beginning October 24, you can reenter your application from this page. If you are still unable to return to your application, please contact us. We apologize for any inconvenience.
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