Medicare penalizes hospitals for readmissions. After making initial payments for hospital stays, Medicare will take back from the hospital these payments, plus a penalty of 4 to 18 times the initial payment, if an above-average number of patients from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days. These readmission penalties apply after some of the most common treatments: pneumonia, heart failure, heart attack, COPD, knee replacement, hip replacement.[31][32] A study of 18 states conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that 1.8 million Medicare patients aged 65 and older were readmitted within 30 days of an initial hospital stay in 2011; the conditions with the highest readmission rates were congestive heart failure, septicemia, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis.[33]
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: One of the most popular types of managed-care plans, this type of Medicare Advantage plan comes with a provider network that you must use to be covered by the plan (with the exception of medical emergencies). If you use non-network providers, you may have to pay the full cost for your care. You’re also required to have a primary care physician; if you need to see a specialist, you’ll need to a get a referral from your primary care doctor first.
If you are one of millions of Americans working after 65, your employer health insurance coverage may be all you need for now. Medicare supplement open enrollment generally won’t begin for you until you enroll in Medicare Part B. If you haven’t enrolled in Part B yet, you should consider waiting to enroll until you are ready for your Medicare supplement open enrollment to begin. There are some notable exceptions for Part B and employer coverage.

After you meet your Medicare Part A deductible, Part A requires a coinsurance payment of $341 per day (in 2019) for days 61-90 of an inpatient hospital stay. The coinsurance is $682 per day for a hospital stay that lasts longer than 90 days, but only for up to 60 additional lifetime reserve days. After that point, Medicare Part A holds you responsible for all costs.


A couple of major insurers have already announced new plans to replace Minnesota Cost Plans in certain counties. Typically, these new plans offer broader network coverage within an HMO. One major carrier expects about 200,000 of their Minnesota customers to lose access to a Cost Plan. On the other hand, this change may open opportunities for other companies to expand their own market shares with Minnesota Medicare Advantage plans that can offer greater flexibility, such as PPOs with nationwide networks.


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.
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.
[[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]]
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]

In general, all persons 65 years of age or older who have been legal residents of the United States for at least five years are eligible for Medicare. People with disabilities under 65 may also be eligible if they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Specific medical conditions may also help people become eligible to enroll in Medicare.
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.

This measure involves only Part A. The trust fund is considered insolvent when available revenue plus any existing balances will not cover 100 percent of annual projected costs. According to the latest estimate by the Medicare trustees (2018), the trust fund is expected to become insolvent in 8 years (2026), at which time available revenue will cover around 85 percent of annual projected costs for Part A services.[88] Since Medicare began, this solvency projection has ranged from two to 28 years, with an average of 11.3 years.[89] This and other projections in Medicare Trustees reports are based on what its actuaries call intermediate scenario but the reports also include worst-case and best case scenarios that are quite different (other scenarios presume Congress will change present law).
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]
Plan Benefits Plan A Plan B Plan C Plan F2 Plan G Plan K Plan L Plan N Medicare Part A coinsurance and coverage for hospital benefits Included Included Included Included Included Included Included $20 copay for office visits; $50 copay for ER Medicare Part B coinsurance or copayment Included Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Blood (first three pints) Included Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Hospice Care coinsurance or copayment Included Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Skilled Nursing Facility Care coinsurance Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Medicare Part A deductible Included Included Included Included 50% 75% Included Medicare Part B deductible Included Included Medicare Part B excess charges Included Included Foreign Travel Emergency (up to plan limits) Included Included Included Included
This measure involves only Part A. The trust fund is considered insolvent when available revenue plus any existing balances will not cover 100 percent of annual projected costs. According to the latest estimate by the Medicare trustees (2018), the trust fund is expected to become insolvent in 8 years (2026), at which time available revenue will cover around 85 percent of annual projected costs for Part A services.[88] Since Medicare began, this solvency projection has ranged from two to 28 years, with an average of 11.3 years.[89] This and other projections in Medicare Trustees reports are based on what its actuaries call intermediate scenario but the reports also include worst-case and best case scenarios that are quite different (other scenarios presume Congress will change present law).
How much do you know about Medicare supplement insurance? Contrary to common belief, Medicare, the government-funded healthcare insurance for American citizens age 65 and up, doesn’t cover 100% of your medical costs. Medicare supplement insurance plans add additional coverage to fill the gap in coverage between Medicare and your actual medical expenses. Private companies sell these so-called “Medigap” policies, which are typically used to cover expenses like deductibles and co-pays.

Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, is a government health insurance program for those who qualify by age or disability. Part A is hospital insurance, and Part B is medical insurance. There are some out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. To help with those costs, if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, you can purchase a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plan.

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.

The PPACA instituted a number of measures to control Medicare fraud and abuse, such as longer oversight periods, provider screenings, stronger standards for certain providers, the creation of databases to share data between federal and state agencies, and stiffer penalties for violators. The law also created mechanisms, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to fund experiments to identify new payment and delivery models that could conceivably be expanded to reduce the cost of health care while improving quality.[118]
Parts A and B/D use separate trust funds to receive and disburse the funds mentioned above. The Medicare Part C program uses these same two trust funds as well in a proportion determined by the CMS reflecting that Part C beneficiaries are fully on Parts A and B of Medicare just as all other beneficiaries, but that their medical needs are paid for per capita through a sponsor (most often an integrated health delivery system or spin out) to providers rather than "fee for service" (FFS) directly to a provider through an insurance company called a Medicare Administrative Contractor.
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.

*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.

The CBO projected that raising the age of Medicare eligibility would save $113 billion over 10 years after accounting for the necessary expansion of Medicaid and state health insurance exchange subsidies under health care reform, which are needed to help those who could not afford insurance purchase it.[130] The Kaiser Family Foundation found that raising the age of eligibility would save the federal government $5.7 billion a year, while raising costs for other payers. According to Kaiser, raising the age would cost $3.7 billion to 65- and 66-year-olds, $2.8 billion to other consumers whose premiums would rise as insurance pools absorbed more risk, $4.5 billion to employers offering insurance, and $0.7 billion to states expanding their Medicaid rolls. Ultimately Kaiser found that the plan would raise total social costs by more than twice the savings to the federal government.[131]
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]
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.
Now that you know more about Medicare Supplement plans, you may be wondering if one of these plans may be right for you. I always enjoy helping people figure this out. If you’d like to start out by getting some more information in front of you, use the links below, which let you schedule a phone appointment or have me email you information about plans. To take a look at all available Medicare plans right now, use the Compare Plans buttons on this page. To get to know me better, take a look at my photo and profile below (see my profile by clicking on the “View profile” link).

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.
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.
A Medigap policy (also called Medicare Supplement Insurance) is private health insurance that’s designed to supplement Original Medicare. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles. If you have Original Medicare and a Medigap policy, Medicare will pay its share of the Medicare-approved amounts for covered health care costs. Then your Medigap policy pays its share.
[[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]]
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.
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.
No. Plan G covers less than Medicare supplemental Plan F. You pay your own Part B deductible. However, you get lower premiums for Plan G, and sometimes that makes it a better value. Be sure to compare the numbers. In my opinion, the best Medicare plan is the one that will cost you the least annual out-of-pocket spending and has the lowest rate increases in recent years.

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