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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.
There are two options commonly used to replace or supplement Original Medicare. One option, called Medicare Advantage plans, are an alternative way to get Original Medicare. The other option, Medicare Supplement (or  Medigap) insurance plans work alongside your Original Medicare coverage. These plans have significant differences when it comes to costs, benefits, and how they work. It’s important to understand these differences as you review your Medicare coverage options.

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.
The highest penalties on hospitals are charged after knee or hip replacements, $265,000 per excess readmission.[34] The goals are to encourage better post-hospital care and more referrals to hospice and end-of-life care in lieu of treatment,[35][36] while the effect is also to reduce coverage in hospitals that treat poor and frail patients.[37][38] The total penalties for above-average readmissions in 2013 are $280 million,[39] for 7,000 excess readmissions, or $40,000 for each readmission above the US average rate.[40]
Generally, Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities and people with End Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). Medicare has two parts, Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medicare Insurance). You are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:

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.
Part A's inpatient admitted hospital and skilled nursing coverage is largely funded by revenue from a 2.9% payroll tax levied on employers and workers (each pay 1.45%). Until December 31, 1993, the law provided a maximum amount of compensation on which the Medicare tax could be imposed annually, in the same way that the Social Security payroll tax works in the U.S.[16] Beginning on January 1, 1994, the compensation limit was removed. Self-employed individuals must pay the entire 2.9% tax on self-employed net earnings (because they are both employee and employer), but they may deduct half of the tax from the income in calculating income tax.[17] Beginning in 2013, the rate of Part A tax on earned income exceeding US$200,000 for individuals (US$250,000 for married couples filing jointly) rose to 3.8%, in order to pay part of the cost of the subsidies mandated by the Affordable Care Act.[18]
Several measures serve as indicators of the long-term financial status of Medicare. These include total Medicare spending as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the solvency of the Medicare HI trust fund, Medicare per-capita spending growth relative to inflation and per-capita GDP growth; general fund revenue as a share of total Medicare spending; and actuarial estimates of unfunded liability over the 75-year timeframe and the infinite horizon (netting expected premium/tax revenue against expected costs). The major issue in all these indicators is comparing any future projections against current law vs. what the actuaries expect to happen. For example, current law specifies that Part A payments to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities will be cut substantially after 2028 and that doctors will get no raises after 2025. The actuaries expect that the law will change to keep these events from happening.
Part B also helps with durable medical equipment (DME), including but not limited to 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 are also covered.[44]
Are you tired of paying for all of your healthcare costs? Even if you are under certain Medicare Advantage plans, you can still be on the hook for a lot of costs. Luckily, we can help you find the best Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota for 2019 that will help you pay for these expenses. Then, you can enjoy retirement instead of worrying so much about money concerning your healthcare.
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.
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.

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.
The first step in choosing a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California is to select the plan type that best meets your medical needs. All same-lettered plans will offer similar coverage. Once you have selected a plan type, you can choose your specific plan based on cost. This can vary somewhat between individual plans, since Medicare Supplement insurance plans are offered by private insurance companies.

*Pre-existing conditions are generally health conditions that existed before the start of a policy. They may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy; however, the exact definition and relevant limitations or exclusions of coverage will vary with each plan, so check a specific plan’s official plan documents to understand how that plan handles pre-existing conditions.
Several measures serve as indicators of the long-term financial status of Medicare. These include total Medicare spending as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the solvency of the Medicare HI trust fund, Medicare per-capita spending growth relative to inflation and per-capita GDP growth; general fund revenue as a share of total Medicare spending; and actuarial estimates of unfunded liability over the 75-year timeframe and the infinite horizon (netting expected premium/tax revenue against expected costs). The major issue in all these indicators is comparing any future projections against current law vs. what the actuaries expect to happen. For example, current law specifies that Part A payments to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities will be cut substantially after 2028 and that doctors will get no raises after 2025. The actuaries expect that the law will change to keep these events from happening.

Enrollment in public Part C health plans, including Medicare Advantage plans, grew from about 1% of total Medicare enrollment in 1997 when the law was passed (the 1% representing people on pre-law demonstration programs) to about 36% in 2018. Of course the absolute number of beneficiaries on Part C has increased even more dramatically on a percentage basis because of the large increase of people on Original Medicare since 1997. Almost all Medicare beneficiaries have access to at least two public Medicare Part C plans; most have access to three or more.


Beneficiaries may enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California during their six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period, beginning on the first day of the month that they are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this time, beneficiaries aren’t subject to medical underwriting, which means they cannot be charged higher premiums or denied coverage based solely on medical history or a current medical condition. However, if a beneficiary adds or changes a Medicare Supplement insurance plan at any other time, medical underwriting guidelines will generally apply.
Your information and use of this site is governed by our updated Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. By entering your name and information above and clicking the Request a Call button, you are consenting to receive calls or emails regarding your Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance, and Prescription Drug Plan options (at any phone number or email address you provide) from an eHealth representative or one of our licensed insurance agent business partners, and you agree such calls may use an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver messages even if you are on a government do-not-call registry. This agreement is not a condition of enrollment.
In the states that chose to expand their coverage once the Affordable Care Act became effective, more adults and families on low incomes became eligible because the new provision allowed enrolment at up to 138 percent of the FPL. In return, the federal government covers all of the expansion costs for the first 3 years and over 90 percent of the costs moving forward.
Some "hospital services" are provided as inpatient services, which would be reimbursed under Part A; or as outpatient services, which would be reimbursed, not under Part A, but under Part B instead. The "Two-Midnight Rule" decides which is which. In August 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a final rule concerning eligibility for hospital inpatient services effective October 1, 2013. Under the new rule, if a physician admits a Medicare beneficiary as an inpatient with an expectation that the patient will require hospital care that "crosses two midnights," Medicare Part A payment is "generally appropriate." However, if it is anticipated that the patient will require hospital care for less than two midnights, Medicare Part A payment is generally not appropriate; payment such as is approved will be paid under Part B.[29] The time a patient spends in the hospital before an inpatient admission is formally ordered is considered outpatient time. But, hospitals and physicians can take into consideration the pre-inpatient admission time when determining if a patient's care will reasonably be expected to cross two midnights to be covered under Part A.[30] In addition to deciding which trust fund is used to pay for these various outpatient vs. inpatient charges, the number of days for which a person is formally considered an admitted patient affects eligibility for Part A skilled nursing services.
Parts B and D are partially funded by premiums paid by Medicare enrollees and general U.S. Treasury revenue (to which Medicare beneficiaries contributed and may still contribute of course). In 2006, a surtax was added to Part B premium for higher-income seniors to partially fund Part D. In the Affordable Care Act's legislation of 2010, another surtax was then added to Part D premium for higher-income seniors to partially fund the Affordable Care Act and the number of Part B beneficiaries subject to the 2006 surtax was doubled, also partially to fund PPACA.
A federal law passed in 2003 created a “competition” requirement for Medicare Cost plans, which stipulated the plans could not be offered in service areas where there was significant competition from Medicare Advantage plans. Congress delayed implementation of the requirement several times until a law passed in 2015 that called for the rule to take effect in 2019.
In 47 states, there are 10 standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plans that are denoted by the letters A through N (plans E, H, I, and J are no longer sold). The private insurance companies offering these plans do not have to offer every Medicare Supplement plan, but they must offer at least Plan A. If an insurance company chooses to offer any Medicare Supplement insurance plans in addition to Plan A, it must offer either Plan C or Plan F along with any other standardized Medicare Supplement insurance plans it offers.
One unique feature of a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California is known as the “birthday rule.” According to this rule, beneficiaries in the state are allowed to buy a new Medicare Supplement insurance plan for 30 days following their birthday each year. The new plan must have equal or lesser coverage than their original plan. During this “birthday” period, Medicare beneficiaries are not subject to medical underwriting like they would be during other times of the year.
In 1998, Congress replaced the VPS with the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). This was done because of highly variable payment rates under the MVPS. The SGR attempts to control spending by setting yearly and cumulative spending targets. If actual spending for a given year exceeds the spending target for that year, reimbursement rates are adjusted downward by decreasing the Conversion Factor (CF) for RBRVS RVUs.

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).

This measure, established under the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), examines Medicare spending in the context of the federal budget. Each year, MMA requires the Medicare trustees to make a determination about whether general fund revenue is projected to exceed 45 percent of total program spending within a seven-year period. If the Medicare trustees make this determination in two consecutive years, a "funding warning" is issued. In response, the president must submit cost-saving legislation to Congress, which must consider this legislation on an expedited basis. This threshold was reached and a warning issued every year between 2006 and 2013 but it has not been reached since that time and is not expected to be reached in the 2016-2022 "window." This is a reflection of the reduced spending growth mandated by the ACA according to the Trustees.
If you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and B (Original Medicare), Medigap plans can help fill the coverage gaps in Medicare Part A and Part B. Medigap plans are sold by private insurance companies and are designed to assist you with out-of-pocket costs (e.g. deductibles, copays and coinsurance) not covered by Parts A and B. These plans are available in all 50 states and can vary in premiums and enrollment eligibility. Medigap plans are standardized; however, all of the standardized plans may not be available in your area.
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).
The dual-eligible population comprises roughly 20 percent of Medicare's enrollees but accounts for 36 percent of its costs.[139] There is substantial evidence that these individuals receive highly inefficient care because responsibility for their care is split between the Medicare and Medicaid programs[140]—most see a number of different providers without any kind of mechanism to coordinate their care, and they face high rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations.[141] Because Medicaid and Medicare cover different aspects of health care, both have a financial incentive to shunt patients into care the other program pays for.
*Pre-existing conditions are generally health conditions that existed before the start of a policy. They may limit coverage, be excluded from coverage, or even prevent you from being approved for a policy; however, the exact definition and relevant limitations or exclusions of coverage will vary with each plan, so check a specific plan’s official plan documents to understand how that plan handles pre-existing conditions.

No part of Medicare pays for all of a beneficiary's covered medical costs and many costs and services are not covered at all. The program contains premiums, deductibles and coinsurance, which the covered individual must pay out-of-pocket. A study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2008 found the Fee-for-Service Medicare benefit package was less generous than either the typical large employer preferred provider organization plan or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Standard Option.[49] Some people may qualify to have other governmental programs (such as Medicaid) pay premiums and some or all of the costs associated with Medicare.
Part B Late Enrollment Penalty If you don't sign up for Part B when you're first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare. Your monthly premium for Part B may go up 10% for each full 12-month period that you could have had Part B, but didn't sign up for it. Usually, you don't pay a late enrollment penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part B during a special enrollment period.[74]
You should always compare your Medicare insurance options before the Annual Election Period because plans change. It’s critically important to anticipate likely changes to Minnesota Medicare Advantage plans in 2019 for one important reason. While nothing has been finalized as of this article, it’s likely that the government will reduce or eliminate Medicare Cost Plans within many counties of this state.
Medicare penalizes hospitals for readmissions. After making initial payments for hospital stays, Medicare will take back from the hospital these payments, plus a penalty of 4 to 18 times the initial payment, if an above-average number of patients from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days. These readmission penalties apply after some of the most common treatments: pneumonia, heart failure, heart attack, COPD, knee replacement, hip replacement.[31][32] A study of 18 states conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that 1.8 million Medicare patients aged 65 and older were readmitted within 30 days of an initial hospital stay in 2011; the conditions with the highest readmission rates were congestive heart failure, septicemia, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis.[33]
"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."
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Any stay which begins, or medical expenses you incur, during the first 3 months after your effective date will not be considered if due to a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition is a condition for which medical advice was given or treatment was recommended by or received from a physician within 3 months prior to your plan's effective date.

"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 PPACA instituted a number of measures to control Medicare fraud and abuse, such as longer oversight periods, provider screenings, stronger standards for certain providers, the creation of databases to share data between federal and state agencies, and stiffer penalties for violators. The law also created mechanisms, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to fund experiments to identify new payment and delivery models that could conceivably be expanded to reduce the cost of health care while improving quality.[118]
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