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.
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. 

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.
If choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B and then decide to do so later, your coverage may be delayed and you may have to pay a higher monthly premium for as long as you have Part B. Your monthly premium will go up 10 percent for each 12-month period you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t sign up for it, unless you qualify for a "Special Enrollment Period."
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.
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]
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.
Medicare has been operated for just over a half century and, during that time, has undergone several changes. Since 1965, the program's provisions have expanded to include benefits for speech, physical, and chiropractic therapy in 1972.[11] Medicare added the option of payments to health maintenance organizations (HMO)[11] in the 1970s. As the years progressed, Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people with permanent disabilities who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and to those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The association with HMOs that began in the 1970s was formalized and expanded under President Bill Clinton in 1997 as Medicare Part C (although not all Part C health plans sponsors have to be HMOs, about 75% are). The "C" stands for Choice (but of course it is also the third Part of Medicare). In 2003, under President George W. Bush, a Medicare program for covering almost all self-administered prescription drugs was passed (and went into effect in 2006) as Medicare Part D (previously and still, professionally administered drugs such as chemotherapy but even the annual flu shot—which was first covered under President George H. W. Bush—are covered under Part B).

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.


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]
Most Medicare enrollees do not pay a monthly Part A premium, because they (or a spouse) have had 40 or more 3-month quarters in which they paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes. The benefit is the same no matter how much or how little the beneficiary paid as long as the minimum number of quarters is reached. Medicare-eligible persons who do not have 40 or more quarters of Medicare-covered employment may buy into Part A for an annual adjusted monthly premium of:

If you’re eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a “general enrollment period” from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll. Read our Medicare publication for more information.

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.
Basic Plan helps cover Medicare's Parts A and B coinsurance, hospice care coinsurance, skilled nursing facility coinsurance, Home Health Care Services, Medical Supplies, and foreign travel emergency care. Extended Basic Plan provides the same benefits listed for the Basic Plan, plus benefits for Medicare's Part A hospital deductible, Medicare's Part B deductible, non-Medicare eligible expenses, and preventive medical care when not paid by Medicare.

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.


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.
Part B coverage includes outpatient physician services, visiting nurse, and other services such as x-rays, laboratory and diagnostic tests, influenza and pneumonia vaccinations, blood transfusions, renal dialysis, outpatient hospital procedures, limited ambulance transportation, immunosuppressive drugs for organ transplant recipients, chemotherapy, hormonal treatments such as Lupron, and other outpatient medical treatments administered in a doctor's office. It also includes chiropractic care. Medication administration is covered under Part B if it is administered by the physician during an office visit.
* NY: In New York, the Excess Charge is limited to 5%; PA and OH: Note: Under Pennsylvania and Ohio law, a physician may not charge or collect fees from Medicare patients which exceed the Medicare-approved Part B charge. Plans F and G pay benefits for excess charges when services are rendered in a jurisdiction not having a balance billing law; TX: In Texas, the amount cannot exceed 15% over the Medicare- approved amount or any other charge limitation established by the Medicare program or state law. Note that the limiting charge applies only to certain services and does not apply to some supplies and durable medical equipment; VT: Vermont law generally prohibits a physician from charging more than the Medicare-approved amount. However, there are exceptions and this prohibition may not apply if you receive services out of state.
The formulary, pharmacy network, and/or provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premium and/or copayments/ coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year.
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.

Medigap plans supplement your Original Medicare benefits, which is why these policies are also called Medicare Supplement plans. You’ll need to be enrolled in Original Medicare to be eligible for Medigap coverage, and you’ll need to stay enrolled in Original Medicare for your hospital and medical coverage. Medicare Supplement plans aren’t meant to provide stand-alone benefits.


Most Medicare Part B enrollees pay an insurance premium for this coverage; the standard Part B premium for 2019 is $135.50 a month. A new income-based premium surtax schema has been in effect since 2007, wherein Part B premiums are higher for beneficiaries with incomes exceeding $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for married couples. Depending on the extent to which beneficiary earnings exceed the base income, these higher Part B premiums are from 30% to 70% higher with the highest premium paid by individuals earning more than $214,000, or married couples earning more than $428,000.[52]

Medicare.gov provides tools that will allow you to compare plans, but the decision is complicated. Insurance agent Graves recommends that you “work with a licensed insurance agent who can show you both Medicare Supplement Plans and Advantage Plans from multiple companies. Each type has its positives.” The questions to cover, he says: “You need to understand the costs, doctor networks, coverage levels, and maximum out-of-pocket for each. Enroll in what suits your situation best.” Organizations such as Consumer Reports and the Medicare Rights Center can also help you research your decision.


Humana is a Fortune 500 company offering several health insurance plans, including Medicare supplement plans. It services over 13 million customers and has won numerous awards from the National Business Group on Health, American Heart Association, Military Times and other organizations for the company’s insurance products and responsible business practices.


If you're enrolled in Medicare Parts A and Part B, Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) may help cover some out-of-pocket costs not covered by Parts A and B, such as certain copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. You can apply for Medicare supplement insurance at any time** and there are various standardized plans available. If you have questions, just call UnitedHealthcare at 1-844-775-1729 1-844-775-1729 (TTY 711). We're here to help.
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