Part B also helps with durable medical equipment (DME), including canes, walkers, lift chairs, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters for those with mobility impairments. Prosthetic devices such as artificial limbs and breast prosthesis following mastectomy, as well as one pair of eyeglasses following cataract surgery, and oxygen for home use is also covered.
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. 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.[Original research?] Medicare's cost growth is now the same as GDP growth and expected to stay well below private insurance's for the next decade.
The PPACA also made some changes to Medicare enrollee's' benefits. By 2020, it will close the so-called "donut hole" between Part D plans' coverage limits and the catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket spending, reducing a Part D enrollee's' exposure to the cost of prescription drugs by an average of $2,000 a year. This lowered costs for about 5% of the people on Medicare. Limits were also placed on out-of-pocket costs for in-network care for public Part C health plan enrollees. Most of these plans had such a limit but ACA formalized the annual out of pocket spend limit. Beneficiaries on traditional Medicare do not get such a limit but can effectively arrange for one through private insurance.
Additionally, the PPACA created the Independent Payment Advisory Board ("IPAB"), which is empowered to submit legislative proposals to reduce the cost of Medicare if the program's per-capita spending grows faster than per-capita GDP plus one percent. While the IPAB would be barred from rationing care, raising revenue, changing benefits or eligibility, increasing cost sharing, or cutting payments to hospitals, its creation has been one of the more controversial aspects of health reform. In 2016, the Medicare Trustees projected that the IPAB will have to convene in 2017 and make cuts effective in 2019.
Applicants have two primary options for completing applications. Any Social Security office can help applicants register for Medicare. It is most common for applicants to apply online. Applicants that are wondering how to apply for Medicare online will be happy to know that the process is not too difficult. On average, it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete an online application. The Medicare application requires a few documents that applicants will want to have on hand. When filling out a MN Medicare enrollment application, enrollees will have to provide an official document that has their date and place of birth on it. The next piece of information that applicants will need concerns their past insurance. If they were on Medicaid they will need to list their state insurance number and the start and end dates of that particular coverage. Applicants that receive insurance from another source, such as from their spouse, will have to list this as well. If you missed your enrollment signup date and wish to be covered by affordable private insurance, call our toll-free number for a free quote.
Medicare's unfunded obligation is the total amount of money that would have to be set aside today such that the principal and interest would cover the gap between projected revenues (mostly Part B premiums and Part A payroll taxes to be paid over the timeframe under current law) and spending over a given timeframe. By law the timeframe used is 75 years though the Medicare actuaries also give an infinite-horizon estimate because life expectancy consistently increases and other economic factors underlying the estimates change.
"Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare 2013," (PDF) lists all Medicare health plans that sell in Minnesota with specific information on each plan's coverage including premiums. Also includes basic information on Medicare ( including enrollment timeline information), Medicare prescriptions (Part D), special health care programs to save money, Medicare appeals process, health care fraud, and long-term care. This comprehensive booklet is published by the Minnesota Board on Aging and is available on line and through the Senior LinkAge Line 1-800-333-2433.
If choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B and then decide to do so later, your coverage may be delayed and you may have to pay a higher monthly premium for as long as you have Part B. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a "Special Enrollment Period."