Would you like to learn more about Medicare Advantage plans in your area? Ask me about anything else you’d like to know. You can use one of the links below to set aside some time to talk with me by phone, or ask me to email you with more information. Learn more about who I am by clicking my photo or profile below. If you want to start comparing the plans available in your area, click the Find Plans or Compare Plans buttons on this page.
Most Medicare Part B enrollees pay an insurance premium for this coverage; the standard Part B premium for 2013 through 2015 was $104.90 – $335.70 per month. The premium increased to over $120 a month in 2016 but only for those not on Social Security in 2015. A new income-based premium surtax schema has been in effect since 2007, wherein Part B premiums are higher for beneficiaries with incomes exceeding $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for married couples. Depending on the extent to which beneficiary earnings exceed the base income, these higher Part B premiums are $139.90, $199.80, $259.70, or $319.70 for 2012, with the highest premium paid by individuals earning more than $214,000, or married couples earning more than $428,000.[49]

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.


The plan that was best for you over the past year may not be the best one next year. That may be because the drugs you take or the doctors you see have changed. Or it may be because the coverage has changed under your plan for next year—your drugs may be moving to a more expensive pricing tier with higher co-payments, or your doctors may be leaving your Medicare Advantage plan’s network. Or new plans may be introduced in your area that are a better match for you. Mutual of Omaha is entering the Part D market in several states, for example, and more insurers are introducing prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans with lower premiums. Because you can change plans every year, you can focus specifically on your drugs and dosages or the type of health care you need now; you can switch again next year if your needs or your options change.

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† Medicaid is a federal program providing health coverage to eligible low-income children and families; Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program. CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) is a federal program providing coverage to children/youth up to age 19 in families with incomes too high to qualify them for Medicaid, but too low to afford private coverage. California’s CHIP program was called the Healthy Families Program (HFP). Although California continues to receive CHIP funding, in 2013 HFP enrollees were transitioned into Medi-Cal.

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.   


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.
Most people fill Medicare’s coverage gaps by buying a Medicare supplement (medigap) plan and a Part D prescription-drug plan, or they get both medical and drug coverage from a private insurer with a Medicare Advantage plan. You have from October 15 to December 7 each year to pick a Medicare Part D prescription-drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan for the year ahead. You can switch from one Part D plan to another, or from one Medicare Advantage plan to another. You can also switch into a Medicare Advantage plan. However, if you have Medicare Advantage and want to switch to a medigap plan plus a Part D plan, you may have limited medigap options depending on your health—although you can choose any Part D plan during open enrollment. (For more information about how to choose between Medicare Advantage or medigap and Part D, see How to Fill Medicare Coverage Gaps).
Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in January 2014. With the implementation of the ACA, many of the participants in Healthy San Francisco became newly eligible for insurance through Medi-Cal Expansion starting January 2014, resulting in an 83 percent caseload increase within two years. The Human Services Agency (HSA) aims to further increase enrollment through outreach to the estimated 10,000 low-income San Franciscans who do not have health insurance.

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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.
Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in January 2014. With the implementation of the ACA, many of the participants in Healthy San Francisco became newly eligible for insurance through Medi-Cal Expansion starting January 2014, resulting in an 83 percent caseload increase within two years. The Human Services Agency (HSA) aims to further increase enrollment through outreach to the estimated 10,000 low-income San Franciscans who do not have health insurance.
Upon receiving beneficiary eligibility information from DPSS, Health Care Options mails each recipient an enrollment packet. The packet contains enrollment materials as well as explains that the beneficiary must choose a health plan, what health plans are available, and that if the enrollment form is not completed and received at Health Care Options in 30 days a health plan will be chosen for them. When Health Care Options chooses a health plan for the beneficiary, it is called default or "automatic assignment."
Original Medicare provides no similar OOP spending cap and the exposure of an Original Medicare beneficiary to a financial catastrophe is unlimited (but also rare). Once the OOP maximum is reached for an individual, the plan pays 100% of medical services for the remainder of the calendar year (with no lifetime maximum). This OOP limit does not apply to a Part C plan's Part-D-like self-administered drug coverage (which uses another means of addressing catastrophic costs).
During Open Enrollment, you may enroll your domestic partner, and your partner’s eligible dependents, in health and welfare benefits that are open for enrollment as long as the relationship meets established criteria. If you would like to enroll your newly-eligible domestic partner in Life and/or Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance, or increase your own Life coverage, you will have a Period of Initial Enrollment from Jan. 1-31, 2019. See your benefits portal for details.
Private managed care programs for Medicare beneficiaries are particularly popular in Minnesota. More than half of all Minnesota Medicare enrollees are in Medicare Advantage plans, as opposed to a national average of 33 percent (in Minnesota, it’s 56 percent; Hawaii has the second-highest percentage of their Medicare beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage, at 45 percent).
Special Needs Plans (SNPs) are designed for people with special health care or financial needs. All Special Needs Plans include drug coverage. They may also include coordination of care, transportation to and from medical appointments, credits to buy everyday health items, and routine vision and dental coverage. There are four main types of Special Needs Plans:

We provide our Q1Medicare.com site for educational purposes and strive to present unbiased and accurate information. However, Q1Medicare is not intended as a substitute for your lawyer, doctor, healthcare provider, financial advisor, or pharmacist. For more information on your Medicare coverage, please be sure to seek legal, medical, pharmaceutical, or financial advice from a licensed professional or telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
As of 2016, 11 policies are currently sold—though few are available in all states, and some are not available at all in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Plans are standardized with a base and a series of riders.. These are Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, High Deductible Plan F, Plan G, Plan K, Plan L, Plan M, and Plan N. Cost is usually the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies. Unlike Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans have no networks, and any provider who accepts Medicare must also accept the Medicare Supplement Plan.
School health centers provide access to health care for many children. In 2018, California had 258 school health centers, up from 153 in 2009. However, nearly half of the state's counties (27 of 58) did not have any school health centers in 2018. When asked whether their school provides adequate health services for students, 23% of responses from elementary school staff, 20% of responses by middle school staff, 19% of responses by high school staff, and 25% of responses by staff at non-traditional schools reported strong agreement in 2013-2015.
Medicare Advantage plans have lock-in periods. You can enroll in one during Initial Enrollment Period when you first turn 65. After that, you may enroll or dis-enroll only during certain times of year. Once you enroll in Medicare Advantage, you must stay enrolled in the plan for the rest of the calendar year. You may only dis-enroll from an Advantage plan during specific times of the year.
And Minnesota residents also account two-thirds of the national total enrollment in Medicare Cost plans. The state was the first to participate in a demonstration program to pilot Medicare Cost plans in the 1970s, and the plans have remained popular over the decades. They didn’t catch on in many other states, however, and Medicare + Choice came on the national scene in the 1990s, replaced by Medicare Advantage in 2003 (there are still Medicare Cost plans in Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, but their total enrollment is only about a third of the 625,072 people who have Medicare Cost plans in 2018 — the other two-thirds are in Minnesota).
Before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, it’s a good idea to check that the formulary includes your prescription medications; the formulary is a list of prescription medications covered by the plan. Formularies vary by plan, and not every medication is covered by every Medicare plan, so it’s important to double check. Keep in mind that formularies are subject to change. The formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.
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.

There is some controversy over who exactly should take responsibility for coordinating the care of the dual eligibles. There have been some proposals to transfer dual eligibles into existing Medicaid managed care plans, which are controlled by individual states.[146] But many states facing severe budget shortfalls might have some incentive to stint on necessary care or otherwise shift costs to enrollees and their families to capture some Medicaid savings. Medicare has more experience managing the care of older adults, and is already expanding coordinated care programs under the ACA,[147] though there are some questions about private Medicare plans' capacity to manage care and achieve meaningful cost savings.[148]


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]
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.
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]
Special Needs Plans (SNP): Special Needs Plans are for beneficiaries with certain unique situations and meet certain eligibility criteria. These plans may limit membership to people who have certain chronic conditions, live in an institution (such as a nursing home), or are dual eligibles (receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits). You must meet the eligibility requirements of the Special Needs Plan to enroll; for example, to enroll in a Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan in your service area, you must have both Medicare and Medicaid coverage.
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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.
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.
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.
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