Use MinnesotaCare or Medicare? Deadlines are approaching

Use MinnesotaCare or Medicare? Deadlines are approaching

For people who rely on MinnesotaCare or Medicare, two important deadlines are coming up. 

Medicare open enrollment began October 15, and runs through Saturday, December 7. With it comes the opportunity for beneficiaries to make changes to their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, if they choose to. The Minnesota Board on Aging’s Senior LinkAge Line can help Minnesotans on Medicare navigate changes and ensure they have a plan Jan. 1 that meets their needs. 

Each year brings changes to Medicare rules and regulations and to the plans themselves. This year’s most notable change is the revamping of Medicare’s Plan Finder tool, which people use to enroll in or change Medicare plans. Medicare has completely revamped this online tool to provide a better, more personalized user experience. In most cases, users should create, and log in to, a MyMedicare account to do a personalized search. This allows the user to access their current coverage and compare that with other plans. 

“Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, it’s still a good idea to review all of your options, said Kari Benson, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging. “It’s important to make sure that things that are important to you, including your prescriptions, are still covered and that the plan is affordable and lets you access to the doctors, clinics and pharmacies you prefer.” 

Minnesota has more than one million people on Medicare, and that number is growing. The Senior LinkAge Line helps Minnesotans understand Medicare and explore their options by providing unbiased, comprehensive Medicare counseling. Reach them by calling 1-800-333-2433 or go to SeniorLinkAgeLine.com, click on “contact us” and select “chat” Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Minnesotans who rely on MinnesotaCare for affordable health care coverage should complete their annual renewal form by December 15 to ensure coverage into the New Year. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has mailed MinnesotaCare renewal forms to more than 54,000 households throughout the state. These members must verify their continued eligibility for the health care program to continue their coverage in 2020. After members return the renewal form, DHS will notify them by mail if their coverage is renewed, if they need to provide additional information or if they are no longer eligible for the program. 

DHS wants to ensure a smooth renewal process for Minnesotans seeking affordable comprehensive coverage through MinnesotaCare, Commissioner Jodi Harpstead said. 

“We need to remind the Minnesotans we serve of this important end-of-year deadline, so they continue to receive consistent care,” Harpstead said. “We ask MinnesotaCare members to return their renewal form for processing as quickly as possible to maintain their MinnesotaCare coverage without interruption.” 

MinnesotaCare pays for a variety of services like doctor visits, prescriptions and hospital stays. MinnesotaCare members pay no more than $80 per person per month in premiums and have very low out-of-pocket costs. MinnesotaCare provides health care coverage to more than 83,000 Minnesotans who earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance but whose annual incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. (A family of three may have income up to $42,660 per year.) 

Answers to frequently asked questions are available at mn.gov/dhs/health-care/renewal, which also features a video and a checklist to walk members through the renewal process. DHS has added temporary staff to handle calls to the MinnesotaCare help line, 800-657-3672 or 651-297-3862, which is answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Members should wait two weeks after returning their renewal form before calling DHS to find out the status of their renewal. This helps to ensure that DHS can answer their questions.