The PPACA also made some changes to Medicare enrollee's' benefits. By 2020, it will "close" the so-called "donut hole" between Part D plans' initial spend phase coverage limits and the catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket spending, reducing a Part D enrollee's' exposure to the cost of prescription drugs by an average of $2,000 a year.[114] That is, the template co-pay in the gap (which legally still exists) will be the same as the template co-pay in the initial spend phase, 25%. This lowered costs for about 5% of the people on Medicare. Limits were also placed on out-of-pocket costs for in-network care for public Part C health plan enrollees.[115] Most of these plans had such a limit but ACA formalized the annual out of pocket spend limit. Beneficiaries on traditional Medicare do not get such a limit but can effectively arrange for one through private insurance.


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.
Currently, people with Medicare can get prescription drug coverage through a public Medicare Part C plan or through the standalone Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) program. Each plan sponsor establishes its own coverage policies and could if desired independently negotiate the prices it pays to drug manufacturers. But because each plan has a much smaller coverage pool than the entire Medicare program, many argue that this system of paying for prescription drugs undermines the government's bargaining power and artificially raises the cost of drug coverage. Conversely, negotiating for the sponsors is almost always done by one of three or four companies typically tied to pharmacy retailers each of whom alone has much more buying power than the entire Medicare program. That pharmacy-centric vs. government-centric approach appears to have worked given that Part D has come in at 50% or more under original projected spending and has held average annual drug spending by seniors in absolute dollars fairly constant for over 10 years.
The Monthly Premium for Part B for 2019 is $135.50 per month but anyone on Social Security in 2019 is "held harmless" from that amount if the increase in their SS monthly benefit does not cover the increase in their Part B premium from 2018 to 2019. This hold harmless provision is significant in years when SS does not increase but that is not the case for 2019. There are additional income-weighted surtaxes for those with incomes more than $85,000 per annum.[45]
Medicare differs from private insurance available to working Americans in that it is a social insurance program. Social insurance programs provide statutorily guaranteed benefits to the entire population (under certain circumstances, such as old age or unemployment). These benefits are financed in significant part through universal taxes. In effect, Medicare is a mechanism by which the state takes a portion of its citizens' resources to provide health and financial security to its citizens in old age or in case of disability, helping them cope with the enormous, unpredictable cost of health care. In its universality, Medicare differs substantially from private insurers, which must decide whom to cover and what benefits to offer to manage their risk pools and ensure that their costs don't exceed premiums.[citation needed]
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.
Both House Republicans and President Obama proposed increasing the additional premiums paid by the wealthiest people with Medicare, compounding several reforms in the ACA that would increase the number of wealthier individuals paying higher, income-related Part B and Part D premiums. Such proposals are projected to save $20 billion over the course of a decade,[147] and would ultimately result in more than a quarter of Medicare enrollees paying between 35 and 90 percent of their Part B costs by 2035, rather than the typical 25 percent. If the brackets mandated for 2035 were implemented today,[when?] it would mean that anyone earning more than $47,000 (as an individual) or $94,000 (as a couple) would be affected. Under the Republican proposals, affected individuals would pay 40 percent of the total Part B and Part D premiums, which would be equivalent of $2,500 today.[148]
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**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.
A Medicare Supplement insurance plan in California will not provide coverage for services like vision and hearing care. Dental coverage is also not included with these plans. Prescription drug benefits are not included in Medicare Supplement insurance plans. Beneficiaries looking for prescription drug coverage should consider enrolling in either a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug benefits or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

*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.


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]
Medicare Advantage is a PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage depends on contract renewal. Enrollment in the plan after December 31, 2018 cannot be guaranteed. Either CMS or the plan may choose not to renew the contract, or the plan may choose to change the area it serves. Any such change may result in termination of your enrollment. Benefits, premiums, copayments and/or coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year. The formulary, pharmacy network and/or provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary.

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.
Different insurers cover prescriptions differently, so you may find that one company or another does a better job of helping you pay for your medicine. This might not always be the insurer that offers you the lowest rates for your medical coverage. Note that insurers may change their drug plans each year, so it’s a good idea to make sure that these changes won’t negatively impact you. With Medicare Part C plans in Minnesota, you will have to change all of your coverage if you want to change your drug plan, and with supplement plans, you can just change your drug plan.
In 2018, Medicare provided health insurance for over 59.9 million individuals—more than 52 million people aged 65 and older and about 8 million younger people.[1] On average, Medicare covers about half of healthcare expenses of those enrolled. Despite often being called single-payer, United States Medicare is funded by a combination of a payroll tax, beneficiary premiums and surtaxes from beneficiaries, co-pays and deductibles, and general U.S. Treasury revenue. In addition, per the Medicare Trustees, almost everyone on Medicare adds private or public supplements to so-called Original Medicare, which have additional premiums and co-pays. Instead of being single payer, some people on United States Medicare have as many as six payers including themselves.
**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.
We provide our Q1Medicare.com site for educational purposes and strive to present unbiased and accurate information. However, Q1Medicare is not intended as a substitute for your lawyer, doctor, healthcare provider, financial advisor, or pharmacist. For more information on your Medicare coverage, please be sure to seek legal, medical, pharmaceutical, or financial advice from a licensed professional or telephone Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.
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.
The costs of Medicare Supplement Insurance plans in Michigan may vary depending on the provider and the area in which you are located. However, Medigap benefits are consistent between lettered plan types, no matter where you live. It is recommended that you find out what Medigap policies are available to you, and determine which plan type is best depending on your health needs and budget.
Part A covers inpatient hospital stays where the beneficiary has been formally admitted to the hospital, including semi-private room, food, and tests. As of January 1, 2018, Medicare Part A had an inpatient hospital deductible of $1340, coinsurance per day as $335 after 61 days confinement within one "spell of illness", coinsurance for "lifetime reserve days" (essentially, days 91-150 of one or more stay of more than 60 days) of $670 per day. The structure of coinsurance in a Skilled Nursing Facility (following a medically necessary hospital confinement of 3 nights in row or more) is different: zero for days 1-20; $167.50 per day for days 21-100. Many medical services provided under Part A (e.g., some surgery in an acute care hospital, some physical therapy in a skilled nursing facility) is covered under Part B. These coverage amounts increase or decrease yearly on 1st day of the year.

Generally, if you already receive Social Security payments, at age 65 you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). If you choose not to accept Part B (typically because you are still working and receiving employer insurance), you must proactively opt out of it when you receive your automatic enrollment package. You may delay Part B enrollment with no penalty under some circumstances (e.g. the employment situation noted above), or with penalty under other circumstances. If you do not receive SS when you turn 65 you must proactively join Medicare if you want it (and the penalties may apply if you choose not to based on various factors).
Generally, if you already receive Social Security payments, at age 65 you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). If you choose not to accept Part B (typically because you are still working and receiving employer insurance), you must proactively opt out of it when you receive your automatic enrollment package. You may delay Part B enrollment with no penalty under some circumstances (e.g. the employment situation noted above), or with penalty under other circumstances. If you do not receive SS when you turn 65 you must proactively join Medicare if you want it (and the penalties may apply if you choose not to based on various factors).
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."[84]
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.
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.
[[state-start:AL,AK,AZ,AR,CA,CO,CT,DE,DC,FL,GA,GU,HI,ID,IL,IN,IA,KS,KY,LA,ME,MD,MA,MI,MN,MS,MO,MT,MP,NE,NV,NJ,NM,NY,NC,ND,OH,OK,OR,PA,PR,RI,SC,SD,TN,TX,UT,VT,VI,VA,WA,WV,WI,WY]]There are also coverage choices offered by private insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare. These include Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans and Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) plans, and Medicare Supplement plans. Let's learn more.[[state-end]]
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]

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.
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]
MedicareSupplement.com is owned and operated by TZ Insurance Solutions LLC. It serves as an invitation for you, the customer, to inquire about further information regarding Medicare Supplement Insurance. TZ Insurance Solutions LLC and the licensed insurance agents who may call you are not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program. Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed the information contained on MedicareSupplement.com.

Depending on the state that you live in, you may not be able to get Medicare Supplement coverage if you’re under 65 and have Medicare because of disability, end-stage renal disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. States aren’t required to offer Medigap coverage to beneficiaries under 65. If you’re under 65 and enrolled in Original Medicare, check with your state’s insurance department to find out if you’re eligible to enroll in a Medicare Supplement plan.
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.
The standardized Medigap plans each cover certain Medicare out-of-pocket costs to at least some degree. Every Medigap plan covers up to one year of Medicare Part A coinsurance and hospital costs after Medicare benefits are used up. But, for example, Medigap Plan G plans don’t cover your Medicare Part B deductible, while Medigap Plan C plans do. So, if you’d like to enroll in a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you might want to compare the Medigap policies carefully.
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. 

Because of how Part D works and depending on income, a patient could pay between 35 percent and 85 percent of the cost of some of their prescription drugs if they need enough medication to push them into the notorious doughnut hole, when Part D's full prescription-drug coverage runs out after a person has spent $3,750, until their medication costs exceed $5,000 per year. (In 2019, coverage will end at $3,750 and begin again at $5,000.) During the coverage gap, the patient would be responsible for 25 percent of covered, brand-name prescription drugs.
The Minnesota Department of Health offers information about Medicare plans in Minnesota. The agency serves as a resource for those who need help paying their Medicare premiums and those interested in obtaining prescription drug coverage. The office also offers guidelines for handling complaints about health-care coverage and providers. Information on other types of health-care coverage are also covered by this website, including long-term care insurance. Downloads of publications on specific topics are also available, as well as links to additional resources available through state and federal offices.

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).

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A: Original Medicare, also known as traditional Medicare, includes Part A and Part B. It allows beneficiaries to go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, anywhere in the United States. Medicare will pay its share of the charge for each service it covers. You pay the rest, unless you have additional insurance that covers those costs. Original Medicare provides many health care services and supplies, but it doesn’t pay all your expenses. — Read Full Answer

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.


Medicare is a national health insurance program in the United States, begun in 1966 under the Social Security Administration (SSA) and now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, younger people with some disability status as determined by the Social Security Administration, as well as people with end stage renal disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease).
Price transparency: To get a quote you can either call a United Medicare Advisors representative or complete an online form with your contact and health details. Upon sending it off, an agent will contact you with suggested plans. United Medicare Advisors need personal information to form a tailored quote for each individual. Their website says they save consumers an average of around $634 per year by switching to a new Medigap plan.

Medicare supplement plans are related to Medicare. Like Medicare’s “Parts”, each plan letter offers different benefits and has a different premium amount. They are designed to fill the “coverage gaps” in Original Medicare benefits (hence the name Medigap). These products will cover healthcare expenses otherwise left out of Original Medicare coverage, like coinsurance and deductibles. However, Medigap plans do not include dental, vision, or any other supplemental health insurance benefits.
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.
A better strategy is to estimate your total out-of-pocket costs under the plan. Take a look at your past medical needs and consider what care you might need in the year ahead. Then add up the copays, deductibles, and coinsurance payments you are likely to pay. Your insurer may have an online cost estimator tool that may help, and you can find more resources here. Don't forget to do a separate calculation for your prescription drug costs. 
Do you have fairly frequent doctor or hospital visits? If so, you may already know that Medicare Part A and Part B come with out-of-pocket costs you have to pay. You might be able to save money with a Medicare Supplement insurance plan. Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, insurance plans fill in “gaps” in basic benefits left behind by Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
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