Even so, trouble with physician networks and medication costs are two reasons that more than 1,500 people have contacted the state for help switching Medicare plans, according to the
"There is a considerable number of people who have found out the plan they chose for
Most seniors tend to stick with Medicare coverage from year to year, so the shift set off a competitive frenzy among health insurers.
For Minnesotans who've found their new coverage isn't working well, three deadlines for making changes are coming quickly.
Seniors who lost their Cost plans and are supplementing original Medicare with a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan have until Thursday to pick a different Part D plan, according to the
Finally, any Medicare beneficiary who enrolled in a Medicare Advantage health plan for 2019 has until
Prescription drug coverage is a key variable with health plans for seniors because so many on Medicare routinely take medications. So, if people selected a health plan that required much higher costs for their medications, those problems likely showed up quickly in January, said Greiner of the
If the new coverage requires higher payments at the doctor's office because the clinic is not in-network, the change might not yet be apparent to seniors who haven't visited the doctor in the new year. Seniors can check on the network status of their health care providers by contacting their doctor's office, calling their new health insurer or checking the health plan's online directory of health care providers.
"We are busier than we usually are after open enrollment ends," Greiner said.
Going the Medigap plus Part D route typically involves higher premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs than Medicare Advantage plans, which in some cases don't even charge a monthly premium. Across the country, these "zero-premium" plans account for about half of all Medicare Advantage plans sold, according to the
There were no zero-premium Cost plans, so people losing the coverage often were simply looking to hold their premium payment steady for 2019, said
With higher premiums, Cost plans had relatively rich benefits that didn't trigger big out-of-pocket costs when people used health care. So, Medicare shoppers facing a change looked for that sort of coverage among the remaining options, said
A third factor is that the federal government pays Medicare Advantage plans different rates in different parts of the country, said Worcester of UCare. Insurers in
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