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Medicare is changing for some Minnesotans

Minnesotans get Medicare in many ways. There’s Original Medicare, Medicare Supplements, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost and Medicare Drugs through Part D. In 2019, a specific kind of Medicare, Medicare Cost, is going away in 66 counties. Here’s what we know.

What stays the same?
  • All Medicare remains the same for the rest of 2018. You may get new Medicare cards in the mail, but they are just new cards. Your Medicare stays the same.
  • Medicare Advantage, Medicare Savings Program, Minnesota Senior Health Options and Minnesota Senior Care+
  • Medicare Cost is allowed to continue in the following counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Goodhue, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Le Sueur, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Pine, Pipestone, Rice, Rock, St. Louis, Sibley, Stevens, Traverse and Yellow Medicine
What is changing?

A specific type of Medicare, Medicare Cost, won’t be available in 66 counties in Minnesota.

If I live in a county that isn’t changing, what information will I receive from whom? Do I need to do anything different than in the past?

You should have received your Annual Notice of Change information from your insurer just like in the past. You don’t have to do anything if you want to keep what you have now.

How do I know if I have Medicare Cost?

The front of your card will say Cost. Or call the member services number on the back of your card and ask.

Why is Medicare Cost changing?

The federal government made the change.

Why is it changing in some counties, but not all?
The federal government determined where Medicare Cost could stay. Its decision was based on how many Medicare Advantage health insurers there were in the area and how many people were enrolled.
I can keep my Medicare Cost in 2019, but what about the next year?

That decision hasn’t been made yet by the federal government.

What if my Medicare Cost is from work or my union?

Watch for more information from your health insurer, employer or union. Your Medicare Cost may simply change to a similar Medicare Advantage.

How will I know what I have to do?

Your current health insurer and probably the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will send you information in the mail.

Are my new choices more expensive than my Medicare Cost?

That’s a question that doesn’t have a general answer. Each person’s situation is unique.

Will my doctor change? How about medications I take now? How about where I get my prescriptions ? My hospital? How about my care when I go south for the winter?
You will receive details in the mail. These are all topics you will want to take a close look at to make sure you get what you need.
What if I can't decide?

If your current insurer didn’t transfer you from Medicare Cost to Medicare Advantage or you did not choose a Medicare Advantage option during open enrollment, you will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare.

Advice from Minnesota’s Senior Linkage Line

When can I sign up?

Now to Feb. 28, 2019, if your Medicare Cost closed

If your Medicare Cost closed, you have this Special Election Period where you can choose and sign up for other Medicare.

By March 4, if your Medicare Cost closed and you want a Medicare Supplement

If your Medicare Cost closed and you picked Original Medicare, you can buy Medicare Supplements. Because your Medicare Cost closed, you can pick a Medicare Supplement without having to worry about any illness or condition you have now.

Now to March 31, 2019, if you have Medicare Advantage

This is Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period. If you have Medicare Advantage you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage or add or drop a prescription Part D policy.

Help for seniors with low incomes

People with little income can get help paying for Medicare through what’s called the Medicare Savings Programs (MSP.) There are four different options and each has specific rules for qualifying.

More at Minnesota DHS.

More at Minnesota Senior Health Options

Get help, learn more
Learn about different types of Medicare insurance options here:


  • Your health insurer or broker
  • Senior Linkage Line
  • Medicare.gov and click on the “Medicare & You” handbook.