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.
For doctors and medical procedures (Part B) at the hospital and at home: The patient would pay 20 percent of all costs after meeting the $185 deductible. Unlike many other health insurance policies, there is no cap or maximum out-of-pocket amount on what a person could owe. The American Heart Association says that the minimum cost of bypass heart surgery is $85,891, in which case, the Part B copay would be over $17,000.
Medicare Part D went into effect on January 1, 2006. Anyone with Part A or B is eligible for Part D, which covers mostly self-administered drugs. It was made possible by the passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. To receive this benefit, a person with Medicare must enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or public Part C healh plan with integrated prescription drug coverage (MA-PD). These plans are approved and regulated by the Medicare program, but are actually designed and administered by various sponsors including charities, integrated health delivery systems, unions and health insurance companies; almost all these sponsors in turn use pharmacy benefit managers in the same way as they are used by sponsors of health insurance for those not on Medicare. Unlike Original Medicare (Part A and B), Part D coverage is not standardized (though it is highly regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). Plans choose which drugs they wish to cover (but must cover at least two drugs in 148 different categories and cover all or "substantially all" drugs in the following protected classes of drugs: anti-cancer; anti-psychotic; anti-convulsant, anti-depressants, immuno-suppressant, and HIV and AIDS drugs). The plans can also specify with CMS approval at what level (or tier) they wish to cover it, and are encouraged to use step therapy. Some drugs are excluded from coverage altogether and Part D plans that cover excluded drugs are not allowed to pass those costs on to Medicare, and plans are required to repay CMS if they are found to have billed Medicare in these cases.
Coverage may be limited to Medicare-eligible expenses. Benefits vary by insurance plan and the premium will vary with the amount of benefits selected. Depending on the insurance plan chosen, you may be responsible for deductibles and coinsurance before benefits are payable. These policies have exclusions and limitations; please call your agent/producer or Humana for complete details of coverage and costs.
Basic Plan helps cover Medicare's Parts A and B coinsurance, hospice care coinsurance or copayment, skilled nursing facility care coinsurance, the first 3 pints of blood each year, and Wisconsin Mandated Benefits when not covered by Medicare. Basic Plan with Copay covers the same benefits as Basic Plan for Medicare Part A. For Medicare Part B medical expenses, the plan pays generally 20%, other than up to $20 per office visit and up to $50 per emergency room visit. The copayment of up to $50 is waived if you are admitted to any hospital and the emergency visit is covered as a Medicare Part A expense. This plan also covers the Wisconsin Mandated Benefits when not covered by Medicare.
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."
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.
A Medicare Advantage plan (like an HMO or PPO) is another Medicare health plan choice you may have as part of Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you join a Medicare Advantage plan, you still have Medicare. You will get your Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage from the Medicare Advantage plan and no Original Medicare. 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. Medicare Advantage plans aren’t supplemental coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may offer extra coverage, such as vision, hearing, dental, and/or health and wellness programs. Most include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In most cases, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan only at certain times during the year.
One of the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) is for Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMB). The QMB program covers the premiums for Medicare Part A and Part B. The deductibles, copays, and coinsurance costs are covered as well. An individual can qualify for this program with an income of no more than $1,032 a month. A married couple can also qualify with a combined income of less than $1,392 a month.
The highest penalties on hospitals are charged after knee or hip replacements, $265,000 per excess readmission. The goals are to encourage better post-hospital care and more referrals to hospice and end-of-life care in lieu of treatment, while the effect is also to reduce coverage in hospitals that treat poor and frail patients. The total penalties for above-average readmissions in 2013 are $280 million, for 7,000 excess readmissions, or $40,000 for each readmission above the US average rate.
Because Medicare offers statutorily determined benefits, its coverage policies and payment rates are publicly known, and all enrollees are entitled to the same coverage. In the private insurance market, plans can be tailored to offer different benefits to different customers, enabling individuals to reduce coverage costs while assuming risks for care that is not covered. Insurers, however, have far fewer disclosure requirements than Medicare, and studies show that customers in the private sector can find it difficult to know what their policy covers. and at what cost. Moreover, since Medicare collects data about utilization and costs for its enrollees—data that private insurers treat as trade secrets—it gives researchers key information about health care system performance.
Since the mid-1990s, there have been a number of proposals to change Medicare from a publicly run social insurance program with a defined benefit, for which there is no limit to the government's expenses, into a publicly run health plan program that offers "premium support" for enrollees. The basic concept behind the proposals is that the government would make a defined contribution, that is a premium support, to the health plan of a Medicare enrollee's choice. Sponsors would compete to provide Medicare benefits and this competition would set the level of fixed contribution. Additionally, enrollees would be able to purchase greater coverage by paying more in addition to the fixed government contribution. Conversely, enrollees could choose lower cost coverage and keep the difference between their coverage costs and the fixed government contribution. The goal of premium Medicare plans is for greater cost-effectiveness; if such a proposal worked as planned, the financial incentive would be greatest for Medicare plans that offer the best care at the lowest cost.
All insurance companies that sell Medigap policies are required to make Plan A available, and if they offer any other policies, they must also make either Plan C or Plan F available as well, though Plan F is scheduled to sunset in the year 2020. Anyone who currently has a Plan F may keep it. Many of the insurance companies that offer Medigap insurance policies also sponsor Part C health plans but most Part C health plans are sponsored by integrated health delivery systems and their spin-offs, charities, and unions as opposed to insurance companies. The leading sponsor of both public Part C heatlh plans and private Medigap plans is AARP.