The Chief Actuary of the CMS must provide accounting information and cost-projections to the Medicare Board of Trustees to assist them in assessing the program's financial health. The Board is required by law to issue annual reports on the financial status of the Medicare Trust Funds, and those reports are required to contain a statement of actuarial opinion by the Chief Actuary.[13][14]

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 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.
During regular Medicare open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, you can choose traditional Medicare, which covers only hospitalization and doctor visits, or a Medicare Advantage plan, which includes additional benefits, such as vision, hearing, dental, and prescription drug coverage. If you already have Medicare Advantage, you can switch to a different plan for the upcoming year—or go back to original Medicare during the fall sign-up period.
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.
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.

Lots of people ask us about Medicare Plan F going away. Yes, in 2020, they will phase out Plan F. It will be no longer be available for new enrollees. Medicare beneficiaries who are already enrolled in it, though, will be able to keep it. Congress passed legislation that will no longer allow Medicare supplement policies to cover the Part B deductible for newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries on or after January 1, 2020.
Final decisions haven’t been made on exactly which counties in Minnesota will lose Cost plans next year, the government said. But based on current figures, insurance companies expect that Cost plans are going away in 66 counties across the state including those in the Twin Cities metro. They are expected to continue in 21 counties, carriers said, plus North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 

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.
A number of different plans have been introduced that would raise the age of Medicare eligibility.[126][127][128][129] Some have argued that, as the population ages and the ratio of workers to retirees increases, programs for the elderly need to be reduced. Since the age at which Americans can retire with full Social Security benefits is rising to 67, it is argued that the age of eligibility for Medicare should rise with it (though people can begin receiving reduced Social Security benefits as early as age 62). 

In 2003 Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law on December 8, 2003. Part of this legislation included filling gaps in prescription-drug coverage left by the Medicare Secondary Payer Act that was enacted in 1980. The 2003 bill strengthened the Workers' Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Program (WCMSA) that is monitored and administered by CMS.
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.
It is best to enroll in a Medigap plan during your six-month Medigap Open Enrollment Period starting the first day of the month you are 65 or older and are enrolled in Medicare Part B. During this time, you may enroll in any Medicare Supplement Insurance plan in Michigan, even if you have health problems. No medical underwriting is required, premiums are not higher based on pre-existing conditions*, and you have the guaranteed issue right to enroll in a plan of your choosing.
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 the name suggests, a Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California works as an add-on to Medicare Parts A and B coverage. It is not a stand-alone plan. Beneficiaries that want to switch from Medicare Parts A and B need to consider a Medicare Advantage plan rather than a Medicare Supplement. A Medicare Advantage plan is an alternative for Medicare Parts A and B, providing all the same coverage with additional benefits occasionally included.

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]
As of January 1, 2016, Medicare's unfunded obligation over the 75 year timeframe is $3.8 trillion for the Part A Trust Fund and $28.6 trillion for Part B. Over an infinite timeframe the combined unfunded liability for both programs combined is over $50 trillion, with the difference primarily in the Part B estimate.[88][90] These estimates assume that CMS will pay full benefits as currently specified over those periods though that would be contrary to current United States law. In addition, as discussed throughout each annual Trustees' report, "the Medicare projections shown could be substantially understated as a result of other potentially unsustainable elements of current law." For example, current law effectively provides no raises for doctors after 2025; that is unlikely to happen. It is impossible for actuaries to estimate unfunded liability other than assuming current law is followed (except relative to benefits as noted), the Trustees state "that actual long-range present values for (Part A) expenditures and (Part B/D) expenditures and revenues could exceed the amounts estimated by a substantial margin."
The current disenrollment opportunity applies only to people who have a Medicare Advantage plan. (If you already chose original Medicare, you have to stick with it for 2019.) So if you’re unhappy with your Advantage plan—maybe you find it more expensive than you expected or it doesn’t cover all the services you need—now is the time to make a change.
Popular opinion surveys show that the public views Medicare's problems as serious, but not as urgent as other concerns. In January 2006, the Pew Research Center found 62 percent of the public said addressing Medicare's financial problems should be a high priority for the government, but that still put it behind other priorities.[91] Surveys suggest that there's no public consensus behind any specific strategy to keep the program solvent.[92]
The current disenrollment opportunity applies only to people who have a Medicare Advantage plan. (If you already chose original Medicare, you have to stick with it for 2019.) So if you’re unhappy with your Advantage plan—maybe you find it more expensive than you expected or it doesn’t cover all the services you need—now is the time to make a change. 

There is some controversy over who exactly should take responsibility for coordinating the care of the dual eligibles. There have been some proposals to transfer dual eligibles into existing Medicaid managed care plans, which are controlled by individual states.[143] But many states facing severe budget shortfalls might have some incentive to stint on necessary care or otherwise shift costs to enrollees and their families to capture some Medicaid savings. Medicare has more experience managing the care of older adults, and is already expanding coordinated care programs under the ACA,[144] though there are some questions about private Medicare plans' capacity to manage care and achieve meaningful cost savings.[145]
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.

Many experts have suggested that establishing mechanisms to coordinate care for the dual-eligibles could yield substantial savings in the Medicare program, mostly by reducing hospitalizations. Such programs would connect patients with primary care, create an individualized health plan, assist enrollees in receiving social and human services as well as medical care, reconcile medications prescribed by different doctors to ensure they do not undermine one another, and oversee behavior to improve health.[142] The general ethos of these proposals is to "treat the patient, not the condition,"[136] and maintain health while avoiding costly treatments.


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.
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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.
The Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (or Relative Value Update Committee; RUC), composed of physicians associated with the American Medical Association, advises the government about pay standards for Medicare patient procedures performed by doctors and other professionals under Medicare Part B.[15] A similar but different CMS process determines the rates paid for acute care and other hospitals—including skilled nursing facilities—under Medicare Part A. The rates paid for both Part A and Part B type services under Part C are whatever is agreed upon between the sponsor and the provider. The amounts paid for mostly self administered drugs under Part D is whatever is agreed up between the sponsor (almost always through a pharmacy benefit manager also used in commercial insurance) and pharmaceutical distributors and/or manufacturers.

There are other proposals for savings on prescription drugs that do not require such fundamental changes to Medicare Part D's payment and coverage policies. Manufacturers who supply drugs to Medicaid are required to offer a 15 percent rebate on the average manufacturer's price. Low-income elderly individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid receive drug coverage through Medicare Part D, and no reimbursement is paid for the drugs the government purchases for them. Reinstating that rebate would yield savings of $112 billion, according to a recent CBO estimate.[135] Some have questioned the ability of the federal government to achieve greater savings than the largest PDPs, since some of the larger plans have coverage pools comparable to Medicare's, though the evidence from the VHA is promising. Some also worry that controlling the prices of prescription drugs would reduce incentives for manufacturers to invest in R&D, though the same could be said of anything that would reduce costs.[133] However the comparisons with the VHA point out that the VA only covers about half the drugs as Part D.
Chemotherapy and other medications dispensed in a physician's office are reimbursed according to the Average Sales Price,[68] a number computed by taking the total dollar sales of a drug as the numerator and the number of units sold nationwide as the denominator.[69] The current reimbursement formula is known as "ASP+6" since it reimburses physicians at 106% of the ASP of drugs. Pharmaceutical company discounts and rebates are included in the calculation of ASP, and tend to reduce it. In addition, Medicare pays 80% of ASP+6, which is the equivalent of 84.8% of the actual average cost of the drug. Some patients have supplemental insurance or can afford the co-pay. Large numbers do not. This leaves the payment to physicians for most of the drugs in an "underwater" state. ASP+6 superseded Average Wholesale Price in 2005,[70] after a 2003 front-page New York Times article drew attention to the inaccuracies of Average Wholesale Price calculations.[71]
* 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.
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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