When looking at coverage choices, there’s a lot to consider. You may enroll in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), Medicare Part B (medical insurance) or both. Once you enroll in Original Medicare (Parts A & B), you may have other coverage choices, too, such as a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), a Medicare Prescription Drug plan (Part D) or a Medicare Supplement insurance plan (Medigap).
Even if your prescriptions are covered, there may be hurdles to accessing them, so check the plan's rules. Starting in 2019, Medicare Advantage plans are allowed to require "step therapy," which means, in certain cases, you’ll need to try a less expensive drug before you'll be covered for a more expensive one. Or you may be steered toward a preferred pharmacy instead of your local drugstore.
If you are one of millions of Americans working after 65, your employer health insurance coverage may be all you need for now. Medicare supplement open enrollment generally won’t begin for you until you enroll in Medicare Part B. If you haven’t enrolled in Part B yet, you should consider waiting to enroll until you are ready for your Medicare supplement open enrollment to begin. There are some notable exceptions for Part B and employer coverage.

To be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. A good time to enroll in a plan is generally during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which begins on the first day of the month that you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Part B, and lasts for six months. During this period, you have a guaranteed-issue right to join any Medicare Supplement insurance plan available where you live. You may not be denied basic benefits based on any pre-existing conditions* during this enrollment period (although a waiting period may apply). If you miss this enrollment period and attempt to enroll in the future, you may be denied basic benefits or charged a higher premium based on your medical history. In some states, you may be able to enroll in a Medigap plan before the age of 65.


Less expensive plans have fewer benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs. More expensive plans include extra benefits, like some Medicare deductibles, additional hospital benefits, at-home recovery, and more. You have to decide what sort of plan makes the most sense for you. If you drop your Medigap policy, there is no guarantee you will be able to get it back.
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More limited income-relation of premiums only raises limited revenue. Currently, only 5 percent of Medicare enrollees pay an income-related premium, and most only pay 35 percent of their total premium, compared to the 25 percent most people pay. Only a negligible number of enrollees fall into the higher income brackets required to bear a more substantial share of their costs—roughly half a percent of individuals and less than three percent of married couples currently pay more than 35 percent of their total Part B costs.[149]
Hospice benefits are also provided under Part A of Medicare for terminally ill persons with less than six months to live, as determined by the patient's physician. The terminally ill person must sign a statement that hospice care has been chosen over other Medicare-covered benefits, (e.g. assisted living or hospital care).[41] Treatment provided includes pharmaceutical products for symptom control and pain relief as well as other services not otherwise covered by Medicare such as grief counseling. Hospice is covered 100% with no co-pay or deductible by Medicare Part A except that patients are responsible for a copay for outpatient drugs and respite care, if needed.[42]
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Some Medicare Supplement plans also help pay for a few services that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as emergency overseas travel coverage or Part B excess charges. Two out of ten Medigap plans include a yearly out-of-pocket limit, which Original Medicare doesn’t include. Basically, a Medigap policy fills the “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage.
To be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. A good time to enroll in a plan is generally during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which begins on the first day of the month that you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Part B, and lasts for six months. During this period, you have a guaranteed-issue right to join any Medicare Supplement insurance plan available where you live. You may not be denied basic benefits based on any pre-existing conditions* during this enrollment period (although a waiting period may apply). If you miss this enrollment period and attempt to enroll in the future, you may be denied basic benefits or charged a higher premium based on your medical history. In some states, you may be able to enroll in a Medigap plan before the age of 65.
Medigap is extra health insurance that you buy from a private company to pay health care costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as co-payments, deductibles, and health care if you travel outside the U.S. Medigap policies don't cover long-term care, dental care, vision care, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and private-duty nursing. Most plans do not cover prescription drugs.
You should be informed before buying. If you’re reading this guide, that’s a good start. And in general you should be a skeptical buyer, although Medigap insurance is heavily regulated. Still, shopping for insurance can be exhausting, but the best companies make the process as streamlined as possible. Look for a company that caters to your needs, such as a physical office for a face-to-face meeting, a helpful customer service representative on the phone, or online chat.
A Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) can help pay your prescription drug costs. Designed to work alongside Original Medicare coverage, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans are available from private insurance companies approved by Medicare and doing business in Minnesota. You can also enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include Part D prescription drug coverage in its benefits. 

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.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: One of the most popular types of managed-care plans, this type of Medicare Advantage plan comes with a provider network that you must use to be covered by the plan (with the exception of medical emergencies). If you use non-network providers, you may have to pay the full cost for your care. You’re also required to have a primary care physician; if you need to see a specialist, you’ll need to a get a referral from your primary care doctor first.

If you are going to buy a Medigap plan, the open enrollment period is six months from the first day of the month of your 65th birthday -- as long as you are also signed up for Medicare Part B -- or within six months of signing up for Medicare Part B. During this time, you can buy any Medigap policy at the same price a person in good health pays. If you try to buy a Medigap policy outside this window, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to get coverage. If you do get covered, your rates might be higher.
If you wish to start comparing Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota today, eHealth has a plan finder tool on this page that makes it easy to find plan options in your location. Simply enter your zip code to see available Medicare plan options; you can also enter your current prescription drugs to help narrow your search to Medicare plans that cover your medications.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA") of 2010 made a number of changes to the Medicare program. Several provisions of the law were designed to reduce the cost of Medicare. The most substantial provisions slowed the growth rate of payments to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities under Parts A of Medicare, through a variety of methods (e.g., arbitrary percentage cuts, penalties for readmissions).
Under the 2003 law that created Medicare Part D, the Social Security Administration offers an Extra Help program to lower-income seniors such that they have almost no drug costs; in addition approximately 25 states offer additional assistance on top of Part D. It should be noted again for beneficiaries who are dual-eligible (Medicare and Medicaid eligible) Medicaid may pay for drugs not covered by Part D of Medicare. Most of this aid to lower-income seniors was available to them through other programs before Part D was implemented.
This absolutely varies by region. Since Medicare supplement insurance plans are standardized, you don’t have to worry about benefits being different. This means you’ll want to scout out the Medicare gap plans with the lowest rates in your area. The best supplemental insurance rates will be different in each state, and your age, gender, tobacco usage and eligibility for household discount also affect your rate.
Part D Total Premium: The Part D Total Premium is the sum of the Basic and Supplemental Premiums. Note: the Part D Total Premium is net of any Part A/B rebates applied to "buy down" the drug premium for Medicare Advantage; for some plans the total premium may be lower than the sum of the basic and supplemental premiums due to negative basic or supplemental premiums.
Plan Benefits Plan A Plan B Plan C Plan F2 Plan G Plan K Plan L Plan N Medicare Part A coinsurance and coverage for hospital benefits Included Included Included Included Included Included Included $20 copay for office visits; $50 copay for ER Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment Included Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Blood (first three pints) Included Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Hospice Care coinsurance or copayment Included Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Skilled Nursing Facility Care coinsurance Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Medicare Part A deductible Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Medicare Part B deductible Included Included Medicare Part B excess charges Included Included Foreign Travel Emergency (up to plan limits) Included Included Included Included
Original Medicare, Part A and B, pays for many of your health-care services and supplies, but it doesn’t pay for everything. That’s why you may want to consider getting a Medicare Supplement plan, also called Medigap. Unlike Original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement plan is offered through private insurance companies. These Medigap plans help pay some of the hospital and medical costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, such as copayments, coinsurance, and yearly deductibles.
Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgent care. Medicare Advantage Plans must offer emergency coverage outside of the plan’s service area (but not outside the U.S.). Many Medicare Advantage Plans also offer extra benefits such as dental care, eyeglasses, or wellness programs. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay one monthly premium for the plan’s medical and prescription drug coverage. Plan benefits can change from year to year. Make sure you understand how a plan works before you join.

The Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (or Relative Value Update Committee; RUC), composed of physicians associated with the American Medical Association, advises the government about pay standards for Medicare patient procedures performed by doctors and other professionals under Medicare Part B.[15] A similar but different CMS process determines the rates paid for acute care and other hospitals—including skilled nursing facilities—under Medicare Part A. The rates paid for both Part A and Part B type services under Part C are whatever is agreed upon between the sponsor and the provider. The amounts paid for mostly self administered drugs under Part D is whatever is agreed up between the sponsor (almost always through a pharmacy benefit manager also used in commercial insurance) and pharmaceutical distributors and/or manufacturers.
As always, you’re welcome to find current information on Medicare Part C plans in Minnesota, prescription drug plans, and Medicare supplement plans by using our online quote forms. If you have questions, you’re also welcome to use the toll-free phone number to call a licensed agent. We can help you if you’re just turning 65 years old or want to learn about options for Medicare replacement plans.
As of January 1, 2016, Medicare's unfunded obligation over the 75 year timeframe is $3.8 trillion for the Part A Trust Fund and $28.6 trillion for Part B. Over an infinite timeframe the combined unfunded liability for both programs combined is over $50 trillion, with the difference primarily in the Part B estimate.[88][90] These estimates assume that CMS will pay full benefits as currently specified over those periods though that would be contrary to current United States law. In addition, as discussed throughout each annual Trustees' report, "the Medicare projections shown could be substantially understated as a result of other potentially unsustainable elements of current law." For example, current law effectively provides no raises for doctors after 2025; that is unlikely to happen. It is impossible for actuaries to estimate unfunded liability other than assuming current law is followed (except relative to benefits as noted), the Trustees state "that actual long-range present values for (Part A) expenditures and (Part B/D) expenditures and revenues could exceed the amounts estimated by a substantial margin."
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.
Keep in mind that Medigap plans don’t include prescription drug coverage (Part D), so if you want help with your medication costs, you’ll need to enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. In addition, you can’t use your Medicare Supplement plan to pay for costs you may have with a Medicare Advantage plan. Medigap insurance can only be used to cover costs in Original Medicare.

However, you may have to wait up to six months for coverage if you have a pre-existing health condition. The insurer through which you buy your Medigap policy can refuse to cover out-of-pocket costs for pre-existing conditions during that period. After six months, the Medigap policy must cover the pre-existing condition. The exception to this rule is if you buy a Medigap policy during your open enrollment period and have had continuous "creditable coverage," or a health insurance policy for the six months before buying a policy. The Medigap insurance company cannot withhold coverage for a pre-existing condition in that case.

Both House Republicans and President Obama proposed increasing the additional premiums paid by the wealthiest people with Medicare, compounding several reforms in the ACA that would increase the number of wealthier individuals paying higher, income-related Part B and Part D premiums. Such proposals are projected to save $20 billion over the course of a decade,[147] and would ultimately result in more than a quarter of Medicare enrollees paying between 35 and 90 percent of their Part B costs by 2035, rather than the typical 25 percent. If the brackets mandated for 2035 were implemented today,[when?] it would mean that anyone earning more than $47,000 (as an individual) or $94,000 (as a couple) would be affected. Under the Republican proposals, affected individuals would pay 40 percent of the total Part B and Part D premiums, which would be equivalent of $2,500 today.[148]
Price transparency: AARP earned the top spot as the number one most transparent company since the site generates actual sample rates – without requiring you to fill out personal details in an online form or call a representative. To view rates, type in your ZIP code in the “Find Plans In Your Area” toolbar, then a list generates of all of the available plans and prices based on your age and the plan you want to select. If you decide you want a more detailed quote, then you can call a customer service representative or fill out an online information form requesting to be contacted.
These Medigap insurance policies are standardized by CMS, but are sold and administered by private companies. Some Medigap policies sold before 2006 may include coverage for prescription drugs. Medigap policies sold after the introduction of Medicare Part D on January 1, 2006 are prohibited from covering drugs. Medicare regulations prohibit a Medicare beneficiary from being sold both a public Part C Medicare health plan and a private Medigap Policy. As with public Part C health plans, private Medigap policies are only available to beneficiaries who are already signed up for Original Medicare Part A and Part B. These policies are regulated by state insurance departments rather than the federal government although CMS outlines what the various Medigap plans must cover at a minimum. Therefore, the types and prices of Medigap policies vary widely from state to state and the degree of underwriting, discounts for new members, open enrollment and guaranteed issue also varies widely from state to state.
To be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B. A good time to enroll in a plan is generally during the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which begins on the first day of the month that you are both age 65 or older and enrolled in Part B, and lasts for six months. During this period, you have a guaranteed-issue right to join any Medicare Supplement insurance plan available where you live. You may not be denied basic benefits based on any pre-existing conditions* during this enrollment period (although a waiting period may apply). If you miss this enrollment period and attempt to enroll in the future, you may be denied basic benefits or charged a higher premium based on your medical history. In some states, you may be able to enroll in a Medigap plan before the age of 65.

Some Medicare supplemental insurance (or "Medigap") plans cover all of an enrollee's cost-sharing, insulating them from any out-of-pocket costs and guaranteeing financial security to individuals with significant health care needs. Many policymakers believe that such plans raise the cost of Medicare by creating a perverse incentive that leads patients to seek unnecessary, costly treatments. Many argue that unnecessary treatments are a major cause of rising costs and propose that people with Medicare should feel more of the cost of their care to create incentives to seek the most efficient alternatives. Various restrictions and surcharges on Medigap coverage have appeared in recent deficit reduction proposals.[151][152][153] One of the furthest-reaching reforms proposed, which would prevent Medigap from covering any of the first $500 of coinsurance charges and limit it to covering 50 percent of all costs beyond that, could save $50 billion over 10 years.[154] But it would also increase health care costs substantially for people with costly health care needs.


The total cost for Gracie’s surgery, hospital stay and follow-up care is $70,000. Medicare pays its share of the bills and sends the remainder of about $14,000 to Gracie’s supplemental insurance carrier. The carrier pays the entire bill, and Gracie owes absolutely nothing for any of these Part A and Part B services. Her only out-of-pocket spending would be for medications.
Are you about to qualify for Original Medicare or having problems with your current Medicare insurance? The Annual Election period for enrolling in a new Medicare plan will be here soon. Minnesota Advantage plans in Minnesota, also known as Part C plans, can offer you a way to control costs and get access to local medical providers. In most cases, they also include Medicare Part D, so you don’t have to enroll in other prescription drug plans.

Medigap plans may cover costs like Medicare coinsurance and copayments, deductibles, and emergency medical care while traveling outside of the United States. There are 10 standardized plan types in 47 states, each given a lettered designation (Plan G, for example). Plans of the same letter offer the same benefits regardless of where you purchase your plan. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin offer their own standardized Medigap plans.
The 2003 payment formulas succeeded in increasing the percentage of rural and inner city poor that could take advantage of the OOP limit and lower co-pays and deductibles—as well as the coordinated medical care—associated with Part C plans. In practice however, one set of Medicare beneficiaries received more benefits than others. The MedPAC Congressional advisory group found in one year the comparative difference for "like beneficiaries" was as high as 14% and have tended to average about 2% higher.[47] The word "like" in the previous sentence is key. MedPAC does not include all beneficiaries in its comparisons and MedPAC will not define what it means by "like" but it apparently includes people who are only on Part A, which severely skews its percentage comparisons—see January 2017 MedPAC meeting presentations. The differences caused by the 2003-law payment formulas were almost completely eliminated by PPACA and have been almost totally phased out according to the 2018 MedPAC annual report, March 2018. One remaining special-payment-formula program—designed primarily for unions wishing to sponsor a Part C plan—is being phased out beginning in 2017. In 2013 and since, on average a Part C beneficiary cost the Medicare Trust Funds 2%-5% less than a beneficiary on traditional fee for service Medicare, completely reversing the situation in 2006-2009 right after implementation of the 2003 law and restoring the capitated fee vs fee for service funding balance to its original intended parity level.
Less expensive plans have fewer benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs. More expensive plans include extra benefits, like some Medicare deductibles, additional hospital benefits, at-home recovery, and more. You have to decide what sort of plan makes the most sense for you. If you drop your Medigap policy, there is no guarantee you will be able to get it back.
While the majority of providers accept Medicare assignments, (97 percent for some specialties),[64] and most physicians still accept at least some new Medicare patients, that number is in decline.[65] While 80% of physicians in the Texas Medical Association accepted new Medicare patients in 2000, only 60% were doing so by 2012.[66] 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.[67]
Lots of people ask us about Medicare Plan F going away. Yes, in 2020, they will phase out Plan F. It will be no longer be available for new enrollees. Medicare beneficiaries who are already enrolled in it, though, will be able to keep it. Congress passed legislation that will no longer allow Medicare supplement policies to cover the Part B deductible for newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries on or after January 1, 2020.
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There are two ways for providers to be reimbursed in Medicare. "Participating" providers accept "assignment," which means that they accept Medicare's approved rate for their services as payment (typically 80% from Medicare and 20% from the beneficiary). Some non participating doctors do not take assignment, but they also treat Medicare enrollees and are authorized to balance bill no more than a small fixed amount above Medicare's approved rate. A minority of doctors are "private contractors" from a Medicare perspective, which means they opt out of Medicare and refuse to accept Medicare payments altogether. These doctors are required to inform patients that they will be liable for the full cost of their services out-of-pocket, often in advance of treatment.[63]
MA plans feature a network of doctors and hospitals that enrollees must use to get the maximum payment, whereas supplements tend to provide access to a broader set of health care providers, said Shawnee Christenson, an insurance agent with Crosstown Insurance in New Hope. While that might sound good to beneficiaries, supplements can come with significantly higher premiums, Christenson said.
Do you have fairly frequent doctor or hospital visits? If so, you may already know that Medicare Part A and Part B come with out-of-pocket costs you have to pay. You might be able to save money with a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, insurance plans fill in “gaps” in basic benefits left behind by Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
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