Medicare Cost plans going away in most Minnesota counties Learn how these changes affect employers, unions and retirees in group plans.

The news that Medicare Cost plans are going away also applies to group plans that employers or unions offer their retirees. This big change has drawn a lot of questions, so here are answers to help you understand what’s ahead.

What’s a Medicare Cost plan?

Medicare Cost plans provide more health benefits than Original Medicare Parts A and B. Available only in certain areas, Cost plans cover many people in Minnesota with Medicare. Employers or unions may offer a Medicare Cost plan as an option for retiree medical coverage.

What’s happening to Medicare Cost plans in 2019?

Based on a federal law starting Jan. 1, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will not renew Medicare Cost plans in 66 Minnesota counties. This change will happen in counties where there are two or more Medicare Advantage plans with a certain number of members. Medicare Cost plans will still be available in 21 Minnesota counties in 2019.

Are group retiree plans affected?

Group retiree plans that offer a Medicare Cost plan do not change for 2018. Your current group Medicare Cost plan covers your eligible retirees through the end of the plan year.

You may have to change your plan options for 2019. If your plan is going away, your retirees will be able to enroll in another plan and can’t be denied coverage based on their medical condition.

What are group Medicare options for 2019?

If you offer a group retiree plan, it’s important to review your Medicare plan options each year at renewal. Making sure you get the right plan to meet your business and your retirees’ needs is important.

HealthPartners will have 2019 Medicare plans in Minnesota, and you may find that some plans will have benefits and coverage similar to the plan design you currently have. Common other types of Medicare plans are Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans. They also provide more health benefits than Original Medicare, and Medicare Advantage plans may include coverage for Part D outpatient prescription drugs.

How do we inform our retirees?

Your health plan will explain the general Cost plan changes and options available to your group prior to your renewal. They may assist with communication to your group members, provide materials about your 2019 plan options, and support your open enrollment to ensure retirees get a plan that meets their needs and by the enrollment deadline.

You can trust HealthPartners to continue providing support and guidance. You’ll get plenty of notice about any changes and options well ahead of the time you need to make a choice.

There’s a lot to know about the changes ahead. Learn more with articles, videos and tools at

  • Manager, Medicare and Individual Sales. Sara Wagner has been with the HealthPartners team for 15 years. She has close to 30 years of sales, service and management experience all within the health insurance industry. With her specialization in Medicare, she helps Employer Academy readers better understand this unique health care sector, providing them the information they need to make Medicare decisions for their organization.

    See more posts by Sara >

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