Many look to the Veterans Health Administration as a model of lower cost prescription drug coverage. Since the VHA provides healthcare directly, it maintains its own formulary and negotiates prices with manufacturers. Studies show that the VHA pays dramatically less for drugs than the PDP plans Medicare Part D subsidizes.[132][133] One analysis found that adopting a formulary similar to the VHA's would save Medicare $14 billion a year (over 10 years the savings would be around $140 billion).[134]


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).


Medicare beneficiaries in Michigan who are enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and B) may find that these plans do not cover all of their health expenses. However, Medicare beneficiaries in Michigan may opt to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan, also known as Medigap, which may cover expenses such as copayments, deductibles, coinsurance, and possibly other out-of-pocket expenses. Most states offer ten standard Medigap policy options.

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.


Congress also attempted to reduce payments to public Part C Medicare health plans by aligning the rules that establish Part C plans' capitated fees more closely with the FFS paid for comparable care to "similar beneficiaries" under Parts A and B of Medicare. Primarily these reductions involved much discretion on the part of CMS and examples of what CMS did included effectively ending a Part C program Congress had previously initiated to increase the use of Part C in rural areas (the so-called Part C PFFS plan) and reducing over time a program that encouraged employers and unions to create their own Part C plans not available to the general Medicare beneficiary base (so-called Part C EGWP plans) by providing higher reimbursement. These two types of Part C plans had been identified by MedPAC as the programs that most negatively affected parity between the cost of Medicare beneficiaries on Parts A/B/C and the costs of beneficiaries not on Parts A/B/C. These efforts to reach parity have been more than successful. As of 2015, all beneficiaries on A/B/C cost 4% less per person than all beneficiaries not on A/B/C. But whether that is because the cost of the former decreased or the cost of the latter increased is not known.


If you plan to travel a lot or simply want to choose doctors without concerns over only picking providers on an HMO or PPO network, you might compare Medigap plans. With a supplement, you will have to buy Medicare Part D to cover most prescription medications. This may cost somewhat more, but some folks prefer to choose their drug plan separately from the rest of their medical benefits.
As a Medicare beneficiary, you may also be enrolled in other types of coverage, either through the Medicare program or other sources, such as an employer. When you first sign up for Original Medicare, you’ll fill out a form called the Initial Enrollment Questionnaire and be asked whether you have other types of insurance. It’s important to include all other types of coverage you have in this questionnaire. Medicare uses this information when deciding who pays first when you receive health-care services. 

American Indians can continue to use tribal and Indian Health Services (IHS) clinics. We will not require prior approval or impose any conditions for you to get services at these clinics. For elders 65 years and older this includes Elderly Waiver (EW) services accessed through the tribe. If a doctor or other provider in a tribal or IHS clinic refers you to a provider in our network, we will not require you to see your primary care provider prior to the referral.
Medicare has four basic parts: A, B, C, and D. Taken together, Parts A (hospital care), B (doctors, medical procedures, equipment), and D (prescription drugs) provide basic coverage for Americans 65 and older. What's relevant for this article is what these parts don't cover, such as deductibles, co-pays, and other medical expenses that could wipe out your savings should you become seriously ill. That's where Part C comes in. Also known as Medicare Advantage, it's one of two ways to protect against the potentially high cost of an accident or illness. The other option is Medicare Supplement Insurance, also called Medigap coverage. Here's a look at the two options.
Yes. Some plans offer discounts if you’re married (studies show that married couples tend to be healthier – as they encourage each other to eat nutritious meals, exercise, and see a doctor). You can also possibly cut your rate if you’re a non-smoker, as you’ll likely have fewer health risks. Or you may be able to save by paying annually or via electronic funds transfer. Even if the website or brochure you’re studying doesn’t mention anything about discounts – ask. 

Robert M. Ball, a former commissioner of Social Security under President Kennedy in 1961 (and later under Johnson, and Nixon) defined the major obstacle to financing health insurance for the elderly: the high cost of care for the aged combined with the generally low incomes of retired people. Because retired older people use much more medical care than younger employed people, an insurance premium related to the risk for older people needed to be high, but if the high premium had to be paid after retirement, when incomes are low, it was an almost impossible burden for the average person. The only feasible approach, he said, was to finance health insurance in the same way as cash benefits for retirement, by contributions paid while at work, when the payments are least burdensome, with the protection furnished in retirement without further payment.[97] In the early 1960s relatively few of the elderly had health insurance, and what they had was usually inadequate. Insurers such as Blue Cross, which had originally applied the principle of community rating, faced competition from other commercial insurers that did not community rate, and so were forced to raise their rates for the elderly.[98]
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.
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.
×