On January 1, 1992, Medicare introduced the Medicare Fee Schedule (MFS), a list of about 7,000 services that can be billed for. Each service is priced within the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS) with three Relative Value Units (RVUs) values largely determining the price. The three RVUs for a procedure are each geographically weighted and the weighted RVU value is multiplied by a global Conversion Factor (CF), yielding a price in dollars. The RVUs themselves are largely decided by a private group of 29 (mostly specialist) physicians—the American Medical Association's Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC).[57]

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. 

Each Medicare Supplement insurance plan offers a different level of basic benefits, but each lettered plan must include the same standardized basic benefits regardless of insurance company and location. For example, Medicare Supplement Plan G in Florida includes the same basic benefits as Plan G in North Dakota. Please note that if you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, your Medicare Supplement insurance plan options are different than in the rest of the country. Medicare Supplement insurance plans do not have to cover vision, dental, long-term care, or hearing aids, but all plans must cover at least a portion of the following basic benefits:


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).
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Roughly nine million Americans—mostly older adults with low incomes—are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. These men and women tend to have particularly poor health – more than half are being treated for five or more chronic conditions[136]—and high costs. Average annual per-capita spending for "dual-eligibles" is $20,000,[137] compared to $10,900 for the Medicare population as a whole all enrollees.[138]
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.
A Medigap policy (also called Medicare Supplement Insurance) is private health insurance that’s designed to supplement Original Medicare. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. If you have Original Medicare and a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amounts for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share.

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 Part A and B administrators (whose contracts are bid out periodically), along with other insurance companies and other companies or organizations (such as integrated health delivery systems, unions and pharmacies), also began administering Part C and Part D plans.


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.
With the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Medicare beneficiaries were formally given the option to receive their Original Medicare benefits through capitated health insurance Part C health plans, instead of through the Original fee for service Medicare payment system. Many had previously had that option via a series of demonstration projects that dated back to the early 1970s. These Part C plans were initially known in 1997 as "Medicare+Choice". As of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, most "Medicare+Choice" plans were re-branded as "Medicare Advantage" (MA) plans (though MA is a government term and might not even be "visible" to the Part C health plan beneficiary). Other plan types, such as 1876 Cost plans, are also available in limited areas of the country. Cost plans are not Medicare Advantage plans and are not capitated. Instead, beneficiaries keep their Original Medicare benefits while their sponsor administers their Part A and Part B benefits. The sponsor of a Part C plan could be an integrated health delivery system or spin-out, a union, a religious organization, an insurance company or other type of organization.
Medicare Part B premiums are commonly deducted automatically from beneficiaries' monthly Social Security checks. They can also be paid quarterly via bill sent directly to beneficiaries. This alternative is becoming more common because whereas the eligibility age for Medicare has remained at 65 per the 1965 legislation, the so-called Full Retirement Age for Social Security has been increased to 66 and will go even higher over time. Therefore, many people delay collecting Social Security but join Medicare at 65 and have to pay their Part B premium directly.
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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