If you’re shopping for Medicare plans in Minnesota, it’s easy to feel overloaded with information. That’s actually good news because it means you have a lot of options.

Medicare is a national health insurance program for adults over age 65 and people of any age who meet certain health criteria. Over the years, the program has expanded to give you a lot of choices when it comes to selecting Medicare healthcare coverage.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the following information on Medicare trends in Minnesota for the 2021 plan year:

  • A total of 1,046,846 residents of Minnesota are enrolled in Medicare.
  • The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium decreased in Minnesota compared to last year — from $86.74 in 2020 to $81.79 in 2021.
  • There are 91 Medicare Advantage plans available in Minnesota for 2021, compared to 85 plans in 2020.
  • All Minnesota residents with Medicare have access to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, including plans with $0 premiums.
  • There are 8 different Medigap plans offered in Minnesota for 2021.

Medicare isn’t just a single health plan. There are various parts, some of which you get from the government and others you can purchase from private insurance companies.

Original Medicare

Parts A and B make up what’s known as original Medicare, which comes directly from the government.

You can think of Part A as hospital insurance. It helps pay a portion of the costs for any inpatient health care services you receive while in a hospital, for a limited time at a skilled nursing facility, or when you’re in hospice care.

Part B helps pay for basic outpatient healthcare services, medical supplies, and preventive care you get at the doctor’s office or outpatient clinic.

Medicare Advantage in Minnesota

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans offer an “all-in-one” alternative to purchasing original Medicare plus supplemental coverage. Medicare Advantage plans cover all of the same benefits as original Medicare, plus many other coverage options.

A number of private insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota, including:

These companies offer plans in many counties in Minnesota. However, Medicare Advantage plan offerings vary by county, so enter your specific ZIP code when searching for plans where you live.

Medicare supplement plans in Minnesota

Medicare supplement plans, sometimes called Medigap, were developed to help cover certain out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Medicare supplement plans are available from private insurance companies and can complement your original Medicare.

These plans may help pay some out-of-pocket expenses, as well as add coverage for dental or other types of care.

Many companies offer Medigap plans in Minnesota. In 2021, some of the companies offering Medigap plans throughout the state include:

While we often think of Medicare as health insurance for individuals age 65 and older, it’s open to people with some serious health circumstances, as well. Medicare is available to U.S. residents who:

When can I enroll in Medicare Minnesota plans?

You can begin the process of enrolling in Medicare 3 months before your 65th birthday. This is when your initial enrollment period begins. It then continues for 3 months after you turn age 65.

It usually makes sense to enroll in at least Part A at this time, assuming you qualify for Part A without paying a premium, even if you or your spouse continue to qualify for health insurance through an employer.

If you choose not to enroll in Part B during this time, you’ll be able to enroll in a special enrollment period later on.

Additionally, there’s an open enrollment period each year, during which you can enroll in Medicare for the first time or switch plans if you want to adjust your coverage.

Tips for enrolling in Medicare in Minnesota

When choosing a plan that’s best for you, you need to consider your own situation and preferences. Consider the following:

  • How much will this plan cost me, both in premiums and when I seek care?
  • How extensive is the provider network? Does it include doctors and hospitals convenient to me?
  • What do current members have to say about their coverage? Are there online reviews, or do you know someone who is a member who might offer their opinion of the plan?
  • Does the plan offer special programs that are especially useful for you? For instance, if you or your spouse have diabetes, it might make sense to look for a plan that offers a diabetes management program.

Take advantage of the following resources to learn more about your Medicare options in Minnesota:

  • More than 1 million Minnesota residents are enrolled in Medicare.
  • There are several private insurance companies offering various types of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans throughout the state.
  • Overall, monthly premium costs have decreased for 2021 Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota.
  • There are also several Medigap plan options if you live in Minnesota and are looking for additional coverage.