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.
Buying a policy can be complicated, so get help and find a helpful policy provider. There are many coverage choices available, and the right plan may help you significantly reduce unwanted medical costs. Before you sign up, it’s a good idea to have a friend or family member review your policy. If that’s not an option, we found the following companies were the best and therefore should be a good choice.

Medicare overview information on this website was developed by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to help consumers understand certain aspects about Medicare. Viewing this Medicare overview does not require you to enroll in any Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. To find out about premiums and terms for these and other insurance options, how to apply for coverage, and for much more information, contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company. Each Blue Cross Blue Shield company is responsible for the information that it provides. For more information about Medicare including a complete listing of plans available in your service area, please contact the Medicare program at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048) or visit www.medicare.gov.

MA plans often include dental, vision and health-club benefits that aren’t part of many supplements. Yet people who buy a supplement have the option of buying “stand-alone” Part D prescription drug coverage from any one of several insurers — a feature touted as one of the selling points for Cost plans, too. People in MA plans, by contrast, are limited to Part D plans sold by their MA carrier, Christenson said.

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]
Coverage by beneficiary spending is broken up into four phases: deductible, initial spend, gap (infamously called the "donut hole"), and catastrophic. Under a CMS template, there is usually a $100 or so deductible before benefits commence (maximum of $415 in 2019) followed by the initial spend phase where the templated co-pay is 25%, followed by gap phase (where originally the templated co-pay was 100% but that will fall to 25% in 2020 for all drugs), followed by the catastrophic phase with a templated co-pay of about 5%. The beneficiaries' OOP spend amounts vary yearly but are approximately as of 2018 $1000 in the initial spend phase and $3000 to reach the catastrophic phase. This is just a template and about half of all Part D plans differ (for example, no initial deductible, better coverage in the gap) with permission of CMS, which it typically grants as long as the sponsor provides at least the actuarial equivalent value. 

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.
Established in 1929, BCBS provides Medicare Supplement insurance and personalized, affordable health plans to more than 106 million Americans, equal to nearly one out of every three health insurance consumers across the country. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the umbrella company for 36 different U.S.-based independent health insurance companies like Anthem, CareFirst and Regence, among others.
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.[78] and at what cost.[79] 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.
We evaluated 10 well-known Medicare supplement insurance plans, and after careful review identified the eight best options for 2019. To draw our conclusions, we checked with customers in the market, reviewed data and consulted insurance experts. In summary, no one plan is best for all situations, so we recommend shopping around using a Medicare expert like United Medicare Advisors to compare plans. The eight Medicare supplement insurance companies we think are worth your consideration include: United Medicare Advisors, Cigna, Mutual of Omaha, Medicare.net, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna and AARP by United Healthcare.

MA plans often include dental, vision and health-club benefits that aren’t part of many supplements. Yet people who buy a supplement have the option of buying “stand-alone” Part D prescription drug coverage from any one of several insurers — a feature touted as one of the selling points for Cost plans, too. People in MA plans, by contrast, are limited to Part D plans sold by their MA carrier, Christenson said.
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.
Medicare also has an important role driving changes in the entire health care system. Because Medicare pays for a huge share of health care in every region of the country, it has a great deal of power to set delivery and payment policies. For example, Medicare promoted the adaptation of prospective payments based on DRG's, which prevents unscrupulous providers from setting their own exorbitant prices.[80] Meanwhile, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has given Medicare the mandate to promote cost-containment throughout the health care system, for example, by promoting the creation of accountable care organizations or by replacing fee-for-service payments with bundled payments.[81]
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. 

^ Frakt, Austin (December 13, 2011). "Premium support proposal and critique: Objection 1, risk selection". The Incidental Economist. Retrieved October 20, 2013. [...] The concern is that these public health plans will find ways to attract relatively healthier and cheaper-to-cover beneficiaries (the "good" risks), leaving the sicker and more costly ones (the "bad" risks) in fee for service Medicare. Attracting good risks is known as "favorable selection" and attracting "bad" ones is "adverse selection." [...]
The 10 different Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans available in most states have standardized benefits across each plan letter. For example, Medigap Plan A will have the same benefits regardless of which state you live in or which insurance company you buy from. If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, the Medigap plans in these states are standardized differently.

**NY: In New York, the Excess Charge is limited to 5%; PA and OH: 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.
Under federal law, insurers cannot deny you Medigap insurance when you initially enroll in Medicare at age 65, and they must renew your coverage annually as long as you pay your premiums. But if you try to buy Medigap insurance outside of that initial enrollment period, insurers in many states can deny coverage or charge you higher premiums based on your health or pre-existing conditions.
Medicare supplement Plan F has also been the #1 seller with Baby Boomers for many years. According to a report from America’s Health Insurance professionals, about 57% of all Medigap policies in force were a premium Medicare Plan F policy. (In recent years, Plan G has been the second most popular Medicare supplement plan, and you can read more on that below.)

As you can see, you have a lot of good choices if you want to compare Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota for 2019. Calling all of these companies can be difficult and can take forever, but you don’t have to do that to find pricing information. Instead, you can pull it all up with our quote request form, making a comparison easier than it might have ever been before.
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Medigap plans work differently than Advantage plans. Mostly, when you have an Advantage plan, you will use that instead of Part A and Part B. In contrast, Medicare supplement plans work with your basic benefits to fill in some gaps for coinsurance. The advantages of supplements are that they don’t rely upon plan networks and offer stable benefits from year to year. You can use your supplement all over the country, and in some cases, for urgent medical services outside of the country.
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As of 2016, 11 policies are currently sold—though few are available in all states, and some are not available at all in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin. These plans are standardized with a base and a series of riders. These are Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, High Deductible Plan F, Plan G, Plan K, Plan L, Plan M, and Plan N. Cost is usually the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies in the same state. Unlike public Part C Medicare health Plans, Medigap plans have no networks, and any provider who accepts Original Medicare must also accept Medigap.
Coverage can be difficult to understand, and varies by market. Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin provide their own policies for residents. The remaining 47 states in the U.S. rely on 11 standard plans that accommodate all types of health, lifestyle, and budget demands. These plans vary based coinsurance needs such as hospital stay, hospice care, travel expectations and more.
Before enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, it’s a good idea to check that the formulary includes your prescription medications; the formulary is a list of prescription medications covered by the plan. Formularies vary by plan, and not every medication is covered by every Medicare plan, so it’s important to double check. Keep in mind that formularies are subject to change. The formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.

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. 

Be sure to sign up for Medicare supplement insurance within the 6-month window after you turn 65 (or elder) AND enroll in Medicare Part B. When asked what the number one biggest mistake Americans make is regarding Medicare supplemental insurance, a spokesman with the U.S. Social Security Administration told us “Everyone thinks they have enough coverage when they’re 65 if they’re working or if they have insurance through their spouse. They don’t think they have to sign up. Then later they find out they have missed their open enrollment period.”
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.
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