In 2018, Medicare provided health insurance for over 59.9 million individuals—more than 52 million people aged 65 and older and about 8 million younger people.[1] On average, Medicare covers about half of healthcare expenses of those enrolled. Despite often being called single-payer, United States Medicare is funded by a combination of a payroll tax, beneficiary premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, co-pays and deductibles, and general U.S. Treasury revenue. In addition, per the Medicare Trustees, almost everyone on Medicare adds private or public supplements to so-called Original Medicare, which have additional premiums and co-pays. Instead of being single payer, some people on United States Medicare have as many as six payers including themselves.
"For the more discerning client who prefers consultation to traditional therapy, my sessions are designed to be brief, solution-focused, and trimmed of unnecessary fat. You and I will arrange for a mutually convenient time to conduct sessions either over the phone or through Skype. We will identify the problem, troubleshoot the solution, and implement a strategy to fix it. Whether your struggle is internal or relational, there is no such thing as a problem without a solution. I work primarily with clients with substance use disorders and/or trauma."
The Initial Enrollment Period is a limited window of time when you can enroll in Original Medicare (Part A and/or Part B) when you are first eligible. After you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, you can select other coverage options like a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan from approved private insurers. The best time to buy a Medigap policy is the six month period that starts the first day of the month that you turn 65 or older and enrolled in Part B. After this period, your ability to buy a Medigap policy may be limited and it may be more costly. Each state handles things differently, but there are additional open enrollment periods in some cases.
Part A Late Enrollment Penalty If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, and you don't buy a premium-based Part A when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You must pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn't sign-up. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for 2 years but didn't sign-up, you must pay the higher premium for 4 years. Usually, you don't have to pay a penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part A during a Special Enrollment Period.
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 (2018), the trust fund is expected to become insolvent in 8 years (2026), at which time available revenue will cover around 85 percent of annual projected costs for Part A services.[88] Since Medicare began, this solvency projection has ranged from two to 28 years, with an average of 11.3 years.[89] This and other projections in Medicare Trustees reports are based on what its actuaries call intermediate scenario but the reports also include worst-case and best case scenarios that are quite different (other scenarios presume Congress will change present law).
For institutional care, such as hospital and nursing home care, Medicare uses prospective payment systems. In a prospective payment system, the health care institution receives a set amount of money for each episode of care provided to a patient, regardless of the actual amount of care. The actual allotment of funds is based on a list of diagnosis-related groups (DRG). The actual amount depends on the primary diagnosis that is actually made at the hospital. There are some issues surrounding Medicare's use of DRGs because if the patient uses less care, the hospital gets to keep the remainder. This, in theory, should balance the costs for the hospital. However, if the patient uses more care, then the hospital has to cover its own losses. This results in the issue of "upcoding," when a physician makes a more severe diagnosis to hedge against accidental costs.[55]
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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."[84]
The standardized Medigap plans each cover certain Medicare out-of-pocket costs to at least some degree. Every Medigap plan covers up to one year of Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs after Medicare benefits are used up. But, for example, Medigap Plan G plans don’t cover your Medicare Part B deductible, while Medigap Plan C plans do. So, if you’d like to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you might want to compare the Medigap policies carefully.
If you decide to sign up for a Medigap policy, a good time to do so is during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, a six-month period that typically starts the month you turn 65 and have Medicare Part B. If you enroll in a Medigap plan during this period, you can’t be turned down or charged more because of any health conditions. But if you apply for a Medigap plan later on, you may be subject to medical underwriting; your acceptance into a plan isn’t guaranteed.
How to find private health insurance Health insurance can be costly, and insurers are firm about applying their often rigid policies. There are many factors in choosing cover for you and your family that can alter both the price and the treatments available in the plan, as well as the way the plan works. Read on for help in choosing a plan. Read now
Different insurers cover prescriptions differently, so you may find that one company or another does a better job of helping you pay for your medicine. This might not always be the insurer that offers you the lowest rates for your medical coverage. Note that insurers may change their drug plans each year, so it’s a good idea to make sure that these changes won’t negatively impact you. With Medicare Part C plans in Minnesota, you will have to change all of your coverage if you want to change your drug plan, and with supplement plans, you can just change your drug plan.
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