Major changes are coming for close to half of Minnesotans on Medicare in 2019. Are you one of those affected? Unbiased help is just a phone call away. This year’s Medicare open enrollment period is October 15 – December 7. This is the time when anyone on Medicare can change his or her health plan and drug coverage for the following year. Since plans change yearly, your current plan might not meet your needs for next year. In the land of 10,000 lakes, the very popular Cost Plans will be ending in most Minnesota counties as of January 1, 2019. This will require many to pick a new plan. Check out Minnesota’s own Diana Pierce talking about the change in this video. Cost Plans are sold by three companies is Minnesota: Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN, HealthPartners, and Medica. If you have a Cost Plan that is discontinued, you have likely already received communications about the change from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and from the company that offers your health plan. Do you need help sorting out your options? We can help!  Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare, 2019 Edition, is now available online and at MAAA offices. The guide, published by the Minnesota Board of Aging, provides comprehensive information on Medicare options available to Minnesotans. Dates to keep in mind 

A federal law passed in 2003 created a “competition” requirement for Medicare Cost plans, which stipulated the plans could not be offered in service areas where there was significant competition from Medicare Advantage plans. Congress delayed implementation of the requirement several times until a law passed in 2015 that called for the rule to take effect in 2019.
“It’s important for consumers to review their Medicare coverage  and make sure the plan is both affordable and provides access to doctors, clinics, hospitals and pharmacies they want and need,” said Kari Benson, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging, which operates the Senior LinkAge Line. “Line specialists can help by providing comprehensive, unbiased Medicare counseling.”

You may choose not to enroll in Medicare Part B when you are first eligible because you are already covered by group medical insurance through an employer or union. If you lose your group insurance, or if you decide you want to switch from your group coverage to Medicare, you can sign up at any time that you are still covered by the group plan or during a Special Enrollment Period(SEP).


If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B when you are first eligible, you may need to pay a late enrollment penalty for as long as you have Medicare. Your monthly Part B premium could be 10% higher for every full 12-month period that you were eligible for Part B, but didn’t take it. This higher premium could be in effect for as long as you are enrolled in Medicare. For those who are not automatically enrolled, there are various Medicare enrollment periods during which you can apply for Medicare. Be aware that, with certain exceptions, there are late-enrollment penalties for not signing up for Medicare when you are first eligible.

Medicaid coverage may be different from one state to another. Though they must comply with federal regulations, every state runs its own program; the federal government does not control it. Some information about Medicaid is true in every state. For instance, in Minnesota Medicaid covers some services that are not covered other states. Other states may cover services Minnesota does not. In addition, the costs may be different; not every beneficiary of Health Link in Minnesota will pay the same monthly premium. Certain low-income Medicaid insurance beneficiaries could pay no premiums at all if they qualify for no-cost coverage.
Typically, you can join a Medicare Cost plan anytime the plan is accepting new members. If you’re newly eligible for Medicare, you can enroll anytime during your seven-month Initial Enrollment Period as long as you are enrolled in Medicare Part B. However, if you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D drug plan, you must first disenroll from that plan before enrolling in a Cost plan.

Between January 1 and March 31 each year, if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can leave your plan and return to Original Medicare, and buy a Part D prescription drug plan to supplement your Original Medicare. Starting in 2019, you also have the option to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan during this time. From 2011 through 2018, there wasn’t an option to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan outside of the fall open enrollment period unless you had a circumstance that allowed you a Special Enrollment Period. But the 21st Century Cures Act (Section 17005) expanded the timeframe of the window (from one and a half months to three months) starting in 2019, and allows people to switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
It’s important to note that Minnesota has a Medicaid Look-Back Period. This is a period of 60 months (5 years) that dates back from one’s Medicaid application date. During this time frame, Medicaid checks to ensure no assets were sold or given away under fair market value. If one is found to be in violation of the look-back period, a period of Medicaid ineligibility will ensue.
There’s a new premium bracket for the highest-income Part B and Part D enrollees. Under the terms of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, enrollees with income of $500,000 or more ($750,000 or more for a married couple) will pay a new, higher premium for Part B and Part D coverage in 2019 and future years. For reference, in 2018, the highest income bracket starts at $160,000 ($320,000 for a married couple). The Medicare Trustees’ report projected a Part B premium of $460.70/month for Part B enrollees in the new highest bracket in 2019, and an additional $82.90/month added to the Part D premiums charged by the insurer that provides the Part D coverage.
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The table below presents the most recent, point-in-time count of total Medicaid and CHIP enrollment in   for the last day of the indicated month, and is not solely a count of those newly enrolled during the reporting period. For purpose of comparison, the table also presents (a) the change in enrollment since the initial open of the Health Insurance Marketplaces, and (b) national counts and change statistics for the same period.


Original Medicare does not limit out-of-pocket costs, so most enrollees maintain some form of supplemental coverage. Nationwide, more than half of Original Medicare beneficiaries get their supplemental coverage through an employer-sponsored plan or Medicaid. But for those who don’t, Medigap plans (also known as Medicare supplement plans, or MedSupp) will pay some or all of the out-of-pocket costs they would otherwise have to pay if they had only Original Medicare.
If you decide you want Part A and Part B, there are 2 main ways to get your Medicare coverage — Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO). Some people get additional coverage, like Medicare prescription drug coverage or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).Most people who are still working and have employer coverage don’t need additional coverage. Learn about these coverage choices.
Medicaid is a medical assistance program that provides coverage for various types of medical care. Eligible individuals and families can receive coverage for doctor visits, X-rays, labs, inpatient care, outpatient care and more. However, not all procedures are covered under the federal medical assistance program. To learn about which procedures are covered and to find out all about the Medicaid program, download our comprehensive guide.
Minnesota Medicaid, also known as Medical Assistance (MA), currently provides health insurance to more than 1 million residents. Medicaid in MN enrollment has increased by 19 percent since 2013. You might be wondering, “What is Medicaid in MN?” if you are new to Minnesota. The United States federal government developed Medicaid to help low-income individuals and families get the medical care they need. Now, every state has its own Medicaid program. Keep reading for some basic Minnesota Medicaid information.
Veterans who receive VA coverage and are eligible for Medicare can also consider enrolling in Medicare Part A and Part B. If you have VA benefits as well as Medicare coverage, your options for care and your coverage net can be widened. Your qualified care would be covered under Medicare Part A and/or Part B, even if you go to a non-VA hospital or doctor.
MA plans feature a network of doctors and hospitals that enrollees must use to get the maximum payment, whereas supplements tend to provide access to a broader set of health care providers, said Shawnee Christenson, an insurance agent with Crosstown Insurance in New Hope. While that might sound good to beneficiaries, supplements can come with significantly higher premiums, Christenson said.
Medicare Advantage plans continue to see changes. While healthcare reform is slowly reducing rebates paid to Medicare Advantage plans, these plans continue to be popular. 33 percent of Medicare recipients were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2017—a significant increase from the enrollment total in 2010 when the ACA was signed into law. Most people continue to have numerous Medicare Advantage plans as well as Part D plans available to them. However, these providers can change the coverage options they offer from year to year so it’s important to stay up-to-date.
Only one switch during this time frame is allowed each year — you can change your mind multiple times during the enrollment period in the fall, but can only switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan (or back to Original Medicare) once in the first quarter of the new year. But if you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan in the fall and then decide you don’t like it once it takes effect in January, you have until the end of March to make a change.

Our affordable options make finding the right plan easy. Choosing a Medicare plan doesn't have to be difficult. You just need the right options and the right information. Medica has both. We can answer your questions and help you select the right coverage to meet your needs. So you can feel confident about your choice. And get back to the things you really enjoy.
We make every effort to show all available Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plans in your service area. However, since our data is provided by Medicare, it is possible that this may not be a complete listing of plans available in your service area. For a complete listing please contact 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048), 24 hours a day/7 days a week or consult www.medicare.gov.

Senior LinkAge Line, at (800) 333-2433, is a free statewide service of the Minnesota Board on Aging in partnership with Minnesota’s Area Agencies on Aging. Senior LinkAge Line provides help to older Minnesotans, their families and friends, helping them connect to local services, find answers and get the help they need. The Senior LinkAge Line does not sell or market any Medicare or insurance product.
Minnesota agents can help you understand other factors that can affect Medicare eligibility, including whether or not you have a permanent disability or a chronic illness. For those who don’t are not eligible for Medicare but are low-income, Minnesota licensed agents can help you choose a plan from the health insurance marketplace that suits your needs and budget.
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