Here’s more information on the counties in which Minnesota Medicare Cost plans will no longer be available and a list of important dates for agents and Minnesota Cost plan members to keep in mind.
In June, we wrote Medicare Cost plan beneficiaries in several Minnesota counties would see their current coverage terminated due to a federal competition requirement scheduled to take effect in 2019. Since then, more details have become available regarding which counties will be affected by the change and which ones won’t. The Minnesota Commerce Department has also posted a list of important dates and actions Minnesota Cost plan beneficiaries and agents who sell in the state should be aware of.
While reading the information below, please keep in mind that the availability of Medicare Cost plans in the other U.S. states and territories that offer them (i.e., Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin) may also be affected. An August 2018 report showed there are 625,072 people across the U.S. enrolled in a Medicare Cost plan. About two-thirds of these individuals (64 percent) reside in Minnesota.
Which Minnesota Counties Will Be Affected?
By 2019, Medicare Cost plans will no longer be a viable health insurance option in 66 counties in Minnesota. They will remain available in 21 counties in Minnesota (most of which are in northeastern region) due to there not being many other Medicare options available in those areas.
You can see which counties will be affected by the Minnesota Medicare Cost plan changes on this map or in the lists below.
- Counties in Minnesota Where Cost Plans Won’t Be Available in 2019: Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Brown, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clay, Clearwater, Cottonwood, Crow, Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Grant, Hennepin, Houston, Hubbard, Isanti, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Lac qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Martin, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Norman, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Pope, Ramsey, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Roseau, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Steele, Swift, Todd, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan, Wilkin, Winona, and Wright
- Counties in Minnesota Where Cost Plans Will Be Available in 2019: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Goodhue, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Le Sueur, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Pine, Pipestone, Rice, Rock, Sibley, St. Louis, Stevens, Traverse, and Yellow Medicine
Out of the seven counties with the highest numbers of Medicare Cost plan enrollees in Minnesota as of August 2018, six will not have Cost plans available in 2019.
Important Dates for Minnesota Medicare Cost Plan Members
Approximately 200,000 Minnesota Cost plan beneficiaries will need to enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare beginning January 1, 2019. Beneficiaries will be notified if their coverage is ending and what steps they need to take to get new coverage, if applicable.
Please see the table below for the important dates that Minnesota agents and Cost plan members should know.
|September 1, 2018||Those with a Cost plan that is ending will receive letters from Medicare informing them of the change and their options if they are not being automatically enrolled into a comparable Medicare Advantage plan.|
|September 15, 2018||Cost plan beneficiaries who will be automatically enrolled into a comparable Medicare Advantage plan will be notified of this by their current Cost plan insurer.|
|October 1, 2018||Beneficiaries can start comparing 2019 plans via the Medicare.gov Plan Finder tool or the Minnesota Board on Aging’s 2019 edition of Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare. Individuals can obtain a free copy of the Minnesota Board on Aging’s publication by calling the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433.|
|October 15, 2018, to December 7, 2018|
(Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period)
|Medicare-eligible individuals can choose to enroll in or switch to a new Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plan for 2019.|
|November 2, 2018, to March 4, 2019||Medicare beneficiaries who returned to Medicare Parts A and B after losing their Cost plan can purchase a Medicare Supplement policy without any underwriting.|
|December 8, 2018, to February 28, 2019||Beneficiaries who lost their Cost plans can enroll in a different 2019 Medicare Advantage or Part D plan than the one they enrolled in during Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period.|
|January 1, 2019, to March 31, 2019||Anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or return to Medicare Parts A and B.|
How Health Insurance Agents Can Help
In general, health insurance agents can familiarize themselves with the information above to help answer questions they may receive from beneficiaries.
Please note that, recently, more than 38,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Medicare Cost plan members were mistakenly told that their Medicare Cost plan coverage would end on December 31. The carrier is working on calling these members to inform them that their coverage will not be terminated.
Ritter Insurance Marketing will reimburse AHIP costs for agents licensed in Minnesota, North Dakota, and/or South Dakota who contract to sell Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans with UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, or Humana through Ritter and create a Medicareful page by November 1, 2018. Agents must be level 4, direct to Ritter. To get contracted, visit Contract.RitterIM.com. For more information, please reach out to our Sales team.
Note: You must register with RitterIM.com and/or log in to the site to submit contracting.