Best Medicare in Minnesota (MN)

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Contributor, Benzinga
Updated: August 24, 2021

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Medicare offers coverage to millions of people throughout the U.S. Here’s what you need to know about choosing a Medicare plan in Minnesota.

If you’re preparing for retirement, you should be familiar with Medicare and its multiple parts. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for seniors older than 65 and those who collect Social Security benefits before age 65 because of a disability. Medicare has many parts, so you’ll want to begin learning about your options as soon as possible.

The Best Medicare in Minnesota:

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a federal health insurance program. It’s available if you’re 65 and older. It’s also available to younger people with disabilities and people with end-stage renal disease. 

Medicare was designed to help provide an affordable option for ongoing care needs when compared to private health insurance plans. You can choose to get Medicare coverage through the federal government (Original Medicare) or through an approved private insurance provider (Medicare Advantage).

You can receive your Medicare services in 2 ways. The first is through Original Medicare, which includes Parts A and B. The other way is through Medicare Advantage plans, which are also called Part C. People who have Medicare Advantage plans have Parts A and B. The difference is that health care providers bill the Medicare Advantage plan instead of Medicare when you take advantage of health care services. 

Parts of Medicare Explained

There are 4 parts of Medicare: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. Each Medicare part offers coverage for something different. 

Let’s take a closer look at the various parts of Medicare:

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A, frequently referred to as hospital insurance, covers inpatient care that you receive within a hospital setting. Medicare Part A also covers care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice and some home healthcare. Most people don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A coverage. Part A and Part B make up the Original Medicare. 

Medicare Part B

Part B is Medicare’s medical insurance. Medicare Part B covers outpatient care services you do not receive in a hospital. For example, if you visit a psychiatrist for an evaluation, this would be covered under Part B. Part B also covers primary care services, preventive care and treatments and medical supplies. 

Medicare Part C

Part C provides health care services. Many of these plans offer additional benefits that aren’t covered by Medicare, including dental care, routine vision exams, hearing aids and fitness club memberships. 

Medicare Part C plans, often referred to as Medicare Advantage plans, are not federally managed health insurance plans. Instead, Part C coverage comes from individual, private health insurance companies. In order to offer Part C coverage, a health insurance provider will be authorized by the federal government.

Part C plans must include all of the benefits covered under Original Medicare. You can choose to enroll in a single Part C plan instead of Part A and Part B for a simplified health insurance plan option. Many Part C plans also include services and benefits not covered under the Original Medicare, including prescription drug coverage and dental insurance.

Medicare Part D

Part D is Medicare’s prescription coverage. You can buy standalone Medicare Part D plans. You can also buy a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D coverage. 

Original Medicare does not provide coverage for outpatient prescription drugs, regardless of whether or not they are medically necessary. Part D coverage, sometimes referred to as prescription drug coverage, helps you pay for medications you take outside of a hospital setting. Like Medicare Part C, Part D plans are issued by private companies authorized by the federal government.

Each Part D plan provider chooses which drugs will be covered under each plan. While Part D plan providers must cover at least some drugs in a variety of categories, health insurance companies are not required to cover every drug in every category. You can view which drugs are covered under each plan by viewing the plan’s formulary.  

Medicare Supplemental Coverage

You might want to get additional coverage to help to cover Medicare’s out-of-pocket costs. You may choose to get a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Supplemental Insurance. You might also have insurance through a retirement plan. 

Legalities of Medicare in Minnesota

The Department of Health and Human Services regulates Medicare. It also regulates Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. Social Security handles enrolling people, but it doesn’t regulate Medicare. The Minnesota Department of Commerce regulates Medicare Supplement plans. 

Everyone on Medicare has rights and protections. You have the right to be treated with dignity and without discrimination. You have the right to have your health and personal information kept private. You have the right to understand what Medicare covers and how it works. You also have the right to appeal Medicare decisions you don’t agree with. 

You can file a complaint about Medicare in general or about a Medicare Advantage plan through the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Not sure who to call? Contact Minnesota’s Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433. It connects you with local aging experts who can answer your questions. 

Types of Medicare Advantage Plans

If you’re considering a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s essential to know what type of plans are available. Plan types include:

  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) include a network that requires a referral to see a specialist. Most plans expect you to see providers in your network. Some may allow you to see providers outside your network, but you pay more when you see those providers. 
  • Preferred provider organizations (PPOs) also have a network. You don’t usually need a referral to see a specialist. You can see providers outside the network, but you’ll pay more to do that. 
  • SNPs are special needs plans. These plans are designed to meet the needs of people with chronic health conditions like diabetes. Some plans are for folks who are on Medicaid or who need nursing home care. These plans may be an HMO or PPO. All SNPs have prescription coverage.

Most Medicare Advantage plans also include additional benefits that Medicare doesn’t cover. For example, Medicare doesn’t cover dental care, but many Medicare Advantage plans do. 

How to Sign Up for Medicare in MN

Most people are eligible for premium-free Part A of Medicare when they turn 65. To get Part A for free, you need to have worked at least 40 quarters paying Medicare taxes. This means about 10 years of work. Are you already getting Social Security when you turn 65? If so, it will automatically enroll you in Parts A and B. Coverage will start the first day of the month you turn 65. 

If you aren’t on Social Security, you will need to contact Social Security to enroll.

Medicare Enrollment Period

You have an initial enrollment period. It starts 3 months before the month you turn 65. It ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. Let’s say you turn 65 in December. Your initial enrollment period will start on September 1 and end March 31. 

Some people also receive a special enrollment period. If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part A or B because you have group coverage, you may be eligible for a special enrollment. Your special enrollment will last for 8 months after the month your coverage ends. If your coverage ends in February, your special enrollment period would last until October 31. 

Open Enrollment 2021

If you miss your Initial Enrollment Period, you can still sign onto coverage during the Medicare Open Enrollment period. The Open Enrollment period begins on Jan. 1 and lasts until March 31. Medicare Open Enrollment occurs on the same dates each year. If you enroll during Open Enrollment, your coverage will go into effect on July 1 of the year you sign onto a policy. This may leave you with a gap in coverage, so Benzinga recommends you enroll in Medicare when you are first eligible to avoid fees and a lack of coverage. 

There’s also a general enrollment period each year. If you missed your initial enrollment and special enrollments, you can enroll in Medicare from January 1 to March 31 each year. Your coverage will start on July 1. You may have to pay a late enrollment penalty on Part A or Part B.

People who are on Social Security disability will automatically receive Medicare benefits after receiving benefits for 24 months. 

Average Cost of Medicare Advantage Plans in MN

Medicare Advantage plans vary in terms of what they cover. Here are some of the plans available in Minnesota.

Plan NameCompany Plan TypeHealth DeductibleDrug Deductible
HealthPartners Journey PaceHealthPartnersPPO$0$300
Blue Cross Medicare Advantage CoreBlue Cross Blue Shield of MinnesotaPPO$0$435
MedicaMedica Advantage SolutionHMO$0$380
UCare PrimeUCareHMO$0$435
Allina Health Aetna Medicare Discover PlusAllina Health Aetna MedicarePPO$1,000$250

Best Medicare Insurance Providers in Minnesota

Ready to choose a Medicare Advantage plan? Here are the 5 best plans in Minnesota, based on our research:

HealthPartners
securely through HealthPartners's website

1. Best Overall in MN: HealthPartners

HealthPartners is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by Medicare. This reflects the plan’s quality of care. HealthPartners also vision and hearing coverage as well as virtual care.

You don’t have to deal with long waits at the doctor’s office or trips out in the Minnesota winter to get the care that you need. HealthPartners provides a combination of excellent care and value. 

Also, In addition to standard benefits that Medigap policies must cover, HealthPartners’ supplemental insurance options also come with extra perks. All policies include fitness incentives that allow you to join a local health club for free as well as at-home fit kits you can use to exercise without stepping out the door. HealthPartners plans also include access to a 24/7 emergency assistance line that can help you find local care providers when you’re traveling. 

eHealthInsurance
Best For
  • Comparing plans in your area

2. Best for Comparison Shopping: eHealth Medicare

Collecting individual quotes for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part C plans can become cumbersome and time consuming. Though eHealth Medicare does not offer Medicare plans itself, it can help you quickly compare your options for plans and policies. Simply enter your ZIP code and begin viewing details of Medicare plans available in your area. 

Using eHealth Medicare, you can compare multiple quotes for multiple types of plans from a wide range of providers. This will not only help you save time and money, it will help you pick the best plans

Medica
securely through Medica's website

3. Most Affordable in MN: Medica

Medica offers $0 premium plans that include prescription coverage. It offers an extensive network of doctors and pharmacies, making it easy to get the care you need.

Medica also offers coverage if you travel outside the country. It has an over-the-counter benefit to help you buy those extras that add up, like aspirin and bandages. Medicare rated Medica 4 out of 5 stars. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage
Best For
  • Wide network of doctors, hospitals and specialists across the U.S.
securely through Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage's website

4. Best for Wide Network Coverage: BlueCross BlueShield Minnesota

If you have a healthcare provider you enjoy working with but you don’t have the money to afford a PPO Part C plan, you may want to consider Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Blue Cross and Blue Shield offers a range of Medicare options as well as a wide network of providers on its HMO coverage. The company claims that 96% of healthcare providers in Minnesota are within the insurance company’s network.

Also, you might want to spend your retirement traveling. BlueCross BlueShield Minnesota makes it easy. It offers travel coverage for up to 9 consecutive months per calendar year.

BlueCross BlueShield's plans also include dental, vision and hearing benefits. It has a variety of plans at different price points, so it’s easy to choose one that fits into your budget. 

UCare
securely through UCare's website

5. Best for Provider Options: UCare

UCare says that 96% of all the providers in Minnesota are in its network. That means that you have lots of options and flexibility as you choose a provider. UCare’s Medicare plans include a gym membership, dental care, vision care and services for hearing aids. You can also get care when you’re on the road and emergency care overseas. 

Lasso
securely through Lasso's website

6. Best for MSA: Lasso

Lasso offers a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA). This unique plan combines a high-deductible Medicare plan with a medical savings account. Lasso deposits $3,240 into your account and you can use the money to pay for health care.

The health plan has a $7,400 deductible, which means you’re responsible for $4,160 in expenses each year. Once you meet your deductible, Lasso covers all your Medicare-related health care costs. It’s a flexible option with no premium. 

UnitedHealthCare Health Insurance
Best For
  • Same day coverage available

7. Best for Medicare Part C: UnitedHealthcare

One of the biggest benefits of joining a Medicare Part C plan is that you will often get improved benefits over the Original Medicare. UnitedHealthcare offers a range of Part C coverage options with additional benefits like hearing coverage and dental care coverage.

UnitedHealthcare even caps copays on insulin under most plans, which can make these plans even more beneficial for diabetics.  

WellCare Medicare
Best For
  • Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

8. Best for Part D Coverage: WellCare Health Plans Inc.

WellCare Health Plans Inc. is a prescription drug plan provider in Minnesota offering 6 Part D coverage options. This is twice the number of most Part D providers in the state, which allows you more control over your coverages and costs.

WellCare also offers free mail delivery for prescriptions in tier 1 and tier 2 according to your plan’s formulary. 

Compare Medicare Plans in Minnesota

You should be sure to take care when choosing your Medicare plan. Some factors you may want to consider include:

  • All costs associated with care (premiums, deductibles and more)
  • Each plan’s supported providers
  • Benefits included on Medicare Advantage plans
  • The plan’s overall star rating

Not sure where to begin your search? Consider a few of Benzinga’s recommended providers below.  

  • CoverRight Medicare Advantage
    More Details
    Online Quote Option
    Yes
    Starting Rate
    CoverRight is a free-to-use platform
    securely through CoverRight Medicare Advantage's website
    More Details

    Only available to consumers in the following US states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington (State), West Virginia.

  • Aetna Medicare Advantage
    More Details
    Best For
    Easy access to benefits and member support
    Overall Rating
    Read Review
    securely through Aetna Medicare Advantage's website
    More Details
  • Cigna Medicare Advantage
    More Details
    Best For
    Easy access to benefits
    Overall Rating
    securely through Cigna Medicare Advantage's website
    More Details
  • Humana Medicare Advantage
    More Details
    Best For
    Medicare Advantage Plans
    Overall Rating
    Read Review
  • Mutual of Omaha
    Overall Rating
    securely through Mutual of Omaha's website

Which Medicare Plan Is Right for You? 

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to a Medicare plan. The monthly premium is important. That’s only one aspect of coverage, though. Each Medicare Advantage plan has deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Your deductible is the amount you pay for covered services before the plan picks up the cost. Your out-of-pocket maximum is the most you’ll pay for covered services. 

In general, a higher deductible means a lower premium. Medicare Advantage plans vary, so it’s important to look at each plan. You should also consider the number of prescriptions you take. Medicare.gov lets you input your prescription information and allows you to look for a plan that covers the prescriptions you take. Many plans have a separate prescription deductible. 

Consider each plan’s network. If you have doctors you prefer, you may want a plan with more flexibility. If you see specialists frequently, you might want a PPO, which doesn’t usually require referrals. 

Make sure your plan covers your prescriptions. It should also fit into your monthly budget and your financial plan. If you don’t have much in savings, a plan with a higher premium and lower deductible might be a better fit. It’s more money each month but it helps keep your health care costs predictable. 

Getting Started With Medicare

If you’re coming up on your 65th birthday, it’s a good idea to begin comparing plan options now. Take a look at the policies provided by our partners and think about how you want to get coverage. Starting your search early will help you avoid late enrollment fees, which may be added onto your Part B coverage for years to come.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Q
What are the different parts of Medicare?
A

Medicare has 4 parts named Parts A, B, C, and D. Part A provides hospitalization coverage while Part B provides outpatient coverage, like doctor visits. Parts A and B make up Medicare’s core coverages. Part C is provides private-market Medicare plans, called Medicare Advantage Plans. Part C coverage often includes additional benefits. Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs. Get a Medicare Insurance Quote through the top providers here.

Q
Is Medicare free?
A

Because there are 4 parts to Medicare, there can be different cost structures. Most people won’t have to pay for Medicare Part A (hospitalization). Eligibility for premium-free Part A is based on your work history during which you paid Medicare taxes. Many people do pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part B, however, which covers outpatient medical services, like doctor visits. Deductibles also apply to services covered under Medicare Parts A and B, so you’ll pay a part of the annual cost.

Medicare Parts C and D are optional coverages and have premium costs of their own. Medicare Part C refers to Medicare Advantage Plans that offer additional coverage in exchange for a monthly premium. Part D, the prescription plan, reduces the cost of medications but also requires a monthly premium. Subsidies may be available for low income households to help reduce overall Medicare costs.

Q
Do I need to sign up for Medicare?
A

If you signed up for Social Security before age 65, you were enrolled in Medicare automatically but benefits will begin at age 65. In most cases, there are penalties for not enrolling at age 65, so it pays to sign up on time. Click here to get a medicare quote in minutes from the best providers. 

If you have employer coverage, you may be able to delay Medicare coverage while your work plan is still in force. However, the size of the employer determines whether you’ll pay a penalty for not enrolling at age 65. Employees (and their spouses) of companies that offer group health insurance to 20 or more people are usually exempt from late sign-up penalties if they are covered by the employer’s plan.

Q
How much does Medicare cost in Minnesota?
A

In 2021, the average resident of Minnesota can expect to pay around $81.79 per month for Medicare Part C coverage.

Q
Does Minnesota have Medicare Advantage plans?
A

Yes, there are a range of companies offering Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota. These plans are sold through private health insurance providers and coverage can vary from company to company.