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Medicare Cost Plans Are Going Away for Some in 2018

Changes in federal law related to a type of Medicare health plan, known as a Medicare Cost plan, will affect some people currently enrolled in the plans, depending on which Minnesota county they live in. In Minnesota three health insurers currently offer Medicare Cost plans: Blue Cross Blue Shield of MinnesotaHealthPartners and Medica

Since some Vital Aging Network members may be enrolled in Cost plans that will not be available for 2019, VAN wants to alert members about the coming changes. The MN Board on Aging and the Minnesota Department of Commerce also have information. 

Though health insurers are required to wait until October 1, 2018, to release specific information about their health plans that will replace current Cost plans for those affected, there is some general information available now. Sara Wagner of HealthPartners has shared that information so people can start planning ahead for 2019.

From Sara:

What is a Medicare Cost plan?

A Medicare Cost plan is a type of Medicare health plan that's available in certain areas of the country. It offers coverage to fill in the gaps Original Medicare doesn't cover, like deductibles and copays. And it has a maximum amount you pay each year for covered medical services. 

Will your Medicare Cost plan go away next year?

Based on a federal law starting Jan. 1, 2019, some Medicare Cost plans will not continue. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) set these new rules:

  • CMS will not renew Medicare Cost plans in counties where there are two or more Medicare Advantage plans with a certain number of members.
  • This change happens in 66 Minnesota counties.
  • Cost plans will stay in 21 Minnesota counties if Medicare renews the plan contract.
  • Cost plans will continue in the surrounding states of Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

Do you need to take action now if you have a Medicare Cost plan?

You don't need to do anything different for your 2018 coverage. Your current Medicare Cost plan covers you through the end of the year as long as you continue to live in Minnesota and pay your plan premiums. 

What about next year?

It's important each year to review your Medicare plan options during the Annual Election Period (AEP) from October 15 to December 7. You may have to change your plan for 2019. But don't worry! You'll get plenty of notice about any changes and options well ahead of the time you need to make a choice. You can trust your local Medicare plan to provide support and guidance. 

This fall, watch your mail for details about any changes to your plan. There will be a variety of Medicare plans available, and you may find that some plans will have benefits and coverage similar to the plan design you currently have. Your current health plan insurer will be able to share details about the 2019 options starting October 1.

Making sure you get the right plan to meet your needs is important. If your Cost plan is going away, you'll be able to enroll in another plan and can't be denied coverage based on your medical condition. That's reassuring!

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