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Medicare in Minnesota: How to Apply, Costs, & More

Medicare in Minnesota: How to Apply, Costs, & More

Health insurance can help you pay for part or all of your medical expenses from doctors, specialists, hospital visits, and prescriptions. Since health insurance options are always changing, it's a good idea to learn more about health insurance choices and which ones offer the most benefits while helping you save money.

Medicare is a type of health insurance program offered by the government for American citizens over the age of 65 and younger citizens with certain disabilities. For eligible residents in Minnesota, Medicare can provide health insurance benefits that complement your existing health insurance plan, or be used to provide full coverage. There are over four million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Minnesota and more than three million residents with a Prescription Drug Plan.

Learning more about the application process and the cost of Medicare in Minnesota can help you determine if it's the right choice for you.

How do I Apply for Medicare in Minnesota?

The first step for applying for Medicare in Minnesota is to determine whether you are eligible to apply. As in all other states, residents in Minnesota must meet one of the following requirements to qualify:

  • Age 65 or older and a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident of the U.S. for at least five continuous years
  • Under age 65 with certain disabilities; or any age with end-stage renal disease.

If you meet any of the requirements for qualification, there are a few different ways you can apply for Medicare in Minnesota.

Like other states, Medicare in Minnesota consists of four basic parts:

  • Medicare Part A and Part B combine to form Original Medicare

  • Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) includes the benefits of Original Medicare and may also include other benefits. Part C is available from private insurance providers

  • Medicare Part D covers prescription medications and may be included in a Medicare Advantage plan or purchased separately to supplement original Medicare

    Some counties in Minnesota also offer Medicare Cost Plans from private insurance providers. How you apply for Medicare in Minnesota will depend on your situation and the plan you choose.

Some people are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Automatic enrollment usually only applies to people who already receive Social Security benefits, those who are disabled and have been receiving SSI for 24 months, and retirees from the Railroad Retirement Board. If you're automatically enrolled, you'll receive a "Welcome to Medicare" packet in the mail three months before you turn 65.

If you're not automatically enrolled in Medicare, there is a seven month initial enrollment period during which you can enroll in Medicare. Your initial enrollment period begins three months before the month of your 65th birthday and extends through three months after your birthday month. To enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you can enroll online at the Social Security Administration website, or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. Alternatively, you may be able to visit your local social security office to enroll.

If you choose to delay Medicare Part B enrollment, you have an eight-month special enrollment period to enroll in Part B. This period begins when active employment or your employer group coverage ends (whichever is first). Failing to apply for Medicare within the special enrollment period can lead to penalty fees for as long as you receive Medicare.

If you're already enrolled in Medicare and wish to make changes to your plan, there is an annual enrollment period (AEP) that will allow you to change from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, choose a new Medicare Advantage plan, or make other coverage changes. Medicare AEP runs from October 15 to December 7th each year.

How Much Does Medicare Cost in MN?

Medicare costs in Minnesota come from several different sources and will depend on the plan you choose. For eligible beneficiaries, there is no monthly cost for Medicare Part A (hospital coverage). The premiums can vary for the other parts of Medicare. Check out this guide to learn more about updated Medicare premium and deductible costs.

What is a Medicare Cost Plan in Minnesota?

A Medicare Cost Plan is a type of Medicare plan offered by private insurance companies. Like Medicare Advantage, these plans include Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. Some plans also include prescription drug coverage and other benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

Is Minnesota Care Medicare?

No. Minnesota Care is a health care program for uninsured, working Minnesota residents. The program is designed to help working Minnesotans with low incomes. For eligible families, Minnesota Care pays for a variety of services like doctor visits. prescriptions, and hospital stays. Coverage may be different for children, pregnant women, and some other adults. Most families pay a monthly premium based on the family's income.

Is Medicare Advantage Available in Minnesota?

Yes, 100% of people with Medicare in Minnesota have access to a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private insurers, but they are overseen by the federal government.

There are four different types of Medicare Advantage plans available in Minnesota:

  • HMO Point-of-Service (HMO POS): Participants are required to choose a primary care provider who refers patients to specialists within a specific network. Extra costs may be incurred for services provided by out-of-network providers.
  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): These plans have provider networks that allow you to see any provider (including specialists) within the network. Out-of-network providers typically require you to pay more.
  • Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS): Participants are typically allowed to go to any provider that accepts the plan's payment terms. Your specific plan will determine payment terms.
  • Special Needs Plans (SNP): These plans provide focused and specialized health care for specific groups of people like seniors with both Medicare and Medicaid, or non-seniors with disabilities. Learn more about Special Needs Plans.

For many Medicare enrollees, Medicare Advantage plans provide a way to get complete health insurance benefits from a single plan. The cost of monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs will depend on the plan you choose. Unlike Original Medicare plans, Medicare Advantage plans have a maximum out-of-pocket cost to prevent beneficiaries from paying too much each year.

Learn More About Medicare in Minnesota

Your medical needs are always changing. The plans offered by Medicare and the costs associated with these plans routinely change as well. Navigating all these changes and finding the information you need to choose a plan can be difficult. Our licensed agents can help you choose a Medicare plan based on the coverage features that are most important to you. Whether you want to browse plans in your area, get assistance choosing a plan online, or speak with a Medicare advisor on the phone, our experts are here to help you navigate the process of choosing a Medicare plan that fits your needs and budget.

What you should read next

With the 2020s underway, let’s take a look back at seven key milestones and issues that marked the evolution of healthcare over the past 25 years. 1. The Affordable Care Act became law Just months into 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law. The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as the ACA or Obamacare, changed the nation’s health insurance landscape and  brought about numerous provisions to help make health insurance more affordable and accessible to as many Americans as possible. Some key provisions include: The creation of a health insurance marketplace in every state to provide consumers with a place to purchase health insurance.Income-based subsidies, including premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, for those who purchase individual coverage through the health insurance marketplace (i.e., the state-based and federal exchanges).A requirement that insurance plans cover young adults on their parents’ policies to age 26.Guaranteed issue and renewal of policies.Medicaid expansion to those with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level, in participating states. Ten years later, uninsured rates have declined. In 2010, nearly 16% of Americans were uninsured. But in 2016, the uninsured rate hovered just above 8% - its lowest point in the decade. Although, it started to increase again slightly in 2017.2. Short-term health insurance kept its strideShort-term health insurance is temporary insurance that provides coverage in certain medical situations like an unexpected accident or illness. However, it doesn't include the same essential health benefits that ACA plans do, making it a more affordable insurance option for many.Short-term health plans remained a relevant health insurance option throughout the decade with sales increasing sharply after the ACA took full effect in 2014. These plans became an attractive option for people who were exempt from the individual mandate or opted to pay a penalty for not having an ACA-compliant health plan.Obama limits short-term policiesConcerned that short-term health insurance was impacting ACA enrollment, the Obama administration created regulations that limited their availability. In 2016, short-term policies were capped at three months.Trump expands short-term policiesIn 2018, the Trump administration lifted Obama-era limits. Policies can now last up to 12 months and can be renewed for up to 36 months, depending on state laws. Arizona, for example, has adopted the Trump administration’s regulation. Some states, such as Oregon, still limit short-term plans to less than 90 days.3. High-deductible health plans grew in popularityHigh-deductible health plans, called HDHPs, were introduced in the early 2000s and  were considered "mainstream plans" by 2012. People obtained these plans usually through their employer group-based coverage (if offered), the healthcare exchange, or from private insurers. Here are some interesting facts:HDHP enrollment jumped from 10 million people to 11.4 million people in one year (from January 2010 to January 2011).By 2015, HDHPs accounted for 60% to 80% of plans offered in the individual health insurance marketplace. In 2019, the IRS classified high-deductible health plans as any plan with a deductible of at least $1,350 for an individual and $2,700 for a family. The average annual deductible for individual coverage through a group plan was $1,655 in 2019.But while consumers can appreciate the lower monthly premium of a high-deductible insurance plan, they also tend to delay or skip medical care because of the high out-of-pocket costs associated with HDHPs.The popularity of HDHP may be slowing - at least in the group market. The percentage of employers offering a high-deductible health plan as the only option is projected to decrease in 2020, with more employers beginning to offer additional coverage options.4. Healthcare spending continues to climbIf it seems like your healthcare costs increased throughout the past decade, it probably did. In 2018, the average American household spent $5,000 on healthcare, with nearly 70% of the $5,000 going towards health insurance.The more staggering fact: medical bills are reported to be the number one cause of bankruptcies nationwide. And today, medical costs are considered America’s "real healthcare crisis". And while politicians continue to debate issues including health insurance reform and prescription drug pricing, they have not agreed upon a clear solution.Until things change, consumers must continue to find ways to save on their own, from finding flexible and affordable health insurance options and taking advantage of preventive care, to comparing provider rates before seeking services and getting alternative healthcare through options like telemedicine.5. An opioid epidemic devastates our nationThe opioid epidemic might be the most daunting and complex public health crisis of our time. Heroin-related overdoses increased 286% from 2002 to 2013, with a significant spike around 2010. Another wave of opioid-related deaths hit around 2013 and this time, synthetic opioids like fentanyl were behind the surge. The crisis continued to escalate from there, with prescription drugs playing a significant role. Here are some of the most shocking reports:Opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths and increased to 47,600 people in 2017. By 2019, more than 90 Americans per day were dying from opioid overdose. And prescription opioid abuse was costing the nation $78.5 billion per year.The epidemic impacted people in both rural and urban environments. But overdose deaths in rural communities surpass deaths in urban settings. So what’s being done about it? In early 2019, the Trump administration launched a $353 million initiative to cut opioid overdoses by 40% over the next three years. The federal government is also working to hold drug companies accountable. For example, top executives at Insys Therapeutics were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy—a charge typically assigned to drug dealers and mob bosses. In 2018, the CDC reported that drug overdose deaths decreased for the first time since 1990.6. Covid-19 pandemic and the U.S. healthcare systemThe 2020 pandemic was not only the biggest health event in the U.S. in the past decade, but a major burden on an already fragile healthcare system. From shortages of hospital beds and staff to healthcare facilities having to ration medical supplies to keep up with COVID-19 cases, we’ve seen how our healthcare infrastructure is in need of improvements to better prepare for crises. Not only that, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology assert that the pandemic revealed some deeper issues in our healthcare system, such as disproportionate access to care among marginalized groups and the country’s dependence on healthcare services from underpaid workers.7. Medicare enrollment: Medicare Advantage Plans and Original Medicare Medicare Advantage plans, which are an alternative to Original Medicare, have seen a steady increase in enrollment each year over the past decade. As of 2022, there are 28.4 million Medicare Advantage enrollees which account for 48% of the Medicare-eligible population. People enrolled in MA plans back in 2012 represented about a quarter of all beneficiaries, so enrollment rates have just about doubled.Another interesting fact as reported by Kaiser Family Foundation is that “the average Medicare beneficiary in 2022 has access to 39 Medicare Advantage plans, the largest number of options available in more than a decade.”Here’s a breakdown of MA plan enrollment:About two-thirds (18.7M) of the Medicare population are enrolled in a plan available through individual enrollment.Roughly 5.1 million beneficiaries have coverage through an employer or union group plan available to retirees.More than 4.6 million people are enrolled in Special Needs Plans, the majority of which (89%) are those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. The healthcare debate continuesDiscussions about healthcare reform and our healthcare landscape did not stop when the ACA was passed. Conversations about legal challenges continue to this day. There has been proposed legislation to repeal and replace the ACA under the Trump administration. Trump administration removes individual mandateNew tax legislation  passed in December 2017, which changed one key aspect of the ACA. Previously, you could be penalized for not having health insurance, but Congress and President Trump eliminated the mandate rule for all coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Individual mandate challenged as unconstitutionalThe 5th Circuit also ruled in Texas vs. United States that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, at which time, a A Texas Judge was deciding what, if any, of the ACA still stands. But in 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that states don’t have any grounds to challenge the constitutionality of the ACA mandate.The 2020 electionWith the Presidential election in 2020, Democrats were focused on building upon the ACA with tactics like a “Medicare for all” national health insurance system. However, this agenda never took effect with the Democratic party winning the election. Now twelve years after the passing of the ACA, the Biden-Harris administration has promised to continue upholding the ACA and making affordable health insurance accessible. With ongoing talks of a universal health insurance option for Americans and how to navigate health-related issues post pandemic, there’s no doubt that healthcare legislation will continue to make headlines over the next decade. From Obamacare to the opioid epidemic to the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare-related issues have made major headlines. And it’s inevitable that they’ll only continue to evolve and impact our lives for years to come. We’ll continue to follow the trends and changes as well as their impacts on our nation. 
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  The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), sometimes called Medicare Open Enrollment or the Medicare Annual Election Period, runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is the time period in which Medicare-eligible consumers can make certain changes to their Medicare plans. These plan changes would then become effective on January 1. View Our Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Guide Medicare plan costs and benefits can change annually, so it's wise to review your Medicare coverage each year. Use our Guide to the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period as a resource to review your current Medicare plan on an annual basis, then call our licensed insurance agents to compare Medicare plans during AEP.  Medicare Guide to Annual Enrollment Medicare Guide Understand your Medicare plan options and learn what actions to take and when. Download your guide Call to compare Medicare plans: 1-888-605-1433 (TTY 711). Our licensed insurance agents are available to help 7 days a week. Weekdays: 8am – 11pm ET Saturday: 10am – 7pm ET Sunday: 11am – 6pm ET Overview of Medicare Enrollment PeriodsIt's important to know that the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is different from other Medicare enrollment periods. Here’s a quick overview of the differences:Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): The 7-month initial enrollment period when you can first sign up for Medicare Parts A, B, C or D. This period spans:3 months before your 65th birthdayThe month of your 65th birthday3 months after your 65th birthdayAnnual Enrollment Period (AEP): An election period that allows you to make changes to your Medicare coverage each year. Open Enrollment Period (OEP): Applies only to those with Medicare Advantage, who can change Medicare Advantage plans or drop them and return to Original MedicareGeneral Enrollment Period (GEP): Open enrollment period to join Medicare Part A and B.Special Enrollment Period (SEP): Occurs if you have eligible life changes that mean you need to change your plan before the next annual enrollment period.Be sure to visit our guide to different enrollment periods to learn more.What’s the Difference Between Medicare AEP and the Medicare General Enrollment Period?The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is sometimes confused with the Medicare General Enrollment period, which is January 1 to March 31 each year. It’s important to understand the differences between the two enrollment periods.The Medicare General Enrollment Period is for Medicare beneficiaries who didn’t sign up for Medicare Part A) or Part B when they first became eligible and aren’t eligible for a Medicare Part B special enrollment period. The AEP, however, is for beneficiaries who are already enrolled in Medicare and want to change their Medicare coverage.What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?The first thing to know is that you cannot use the Medicare Annual Election Period to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time.If you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you’d like to change your Medicare coverage, here are some things you can do during the Medicare AEP:Change Medicare Advantage plans.Change Prescription Drug (Part D) plans. Enroll in a Prescription Drug Plan.Cancel your Prescription Drug Plan.Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare (and add a Part D plan or Medicare Supplement plan if needed). 5 Tips to Prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment PeriodThere are many Medicare insurance carriers and plan options, but there are several steps you can take to be a savvy shopper and choose the right plan for your unique needs.1. Mark Your CalendarThis may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s worth mentioning: Mark your calendar for October 15 through December 7 if you’d like to make a change to your Medicare plan.You might even set aside a few hours to research and compare Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans ahead of October 15. These plans announce their benefits for the next year starting on October 1.Writing down these Medicare AEP dates and to-dos will help you to commit to these priorities.2. Review Your Medicare Annual Notice of ChangeYou’ll receive lots of information over the next month or so prior to and during AEP, so if you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan, the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is one piece of mail you’ll want to read.Your Medicare plan will mail your Annual Notice of Change letter to you by September 30. The ANOC letter will inform you of most changes to your Medicare health plan, including coverage and benefits that will take effect on January 1 each year.Each year, your Medicare health plan sets the amounts it will charge you for premiums, deductibles and other services. Medicare doesn’t set these rates - but your insurance company does. With this in mind, the amounts you pay could change each year.While evaluating your current Medicare plan, you may want to ask yourself questions like:Did the plan cover the services I needed?Did I use out-of-network providers?Did I spend more out of pocket than I originally anticipated?Has something changed with my health (new diagnosis, new prescriptions, etc.)?The ANOC will also provide a side-by-side comparison of your current plan and next year’s plan benefits, costs and other changes (if any).Moral of the story: Don’t toss this piece of mail aside. Always review your ANOC to ensure your plan continues to meet your needs on an annual basis. And if you don’t receive your ANOC by September 30, contact your Medicare insurance company.3. Make a List of What’s Important to Your HealthKeeping a list of what’s important to your health is an invaluable way to prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.Start by writing down all of your doctors, preferred health care facilities and hospitals, and prescription drugs, if you take any.We also recommend making a list of value-added benefits that may fit your health, lifestyle and budget.For example, you may be someone who likes to keep active and have social interaction. So a fitness program like SilverSneakers, which gives you access to a network of gyms and other programs, might be a good fit for you. A Medicare Advantage plan may provide these types of fitness or wellness programs.Another thing to consider is whether or not you have an elective surgery planned for 2023. If so, you’ll want to check your hospital-specific benefits under your current Medicare Advantage plan.4. Check Your Plan’s Drug FormularyYour Medicare plan’s drug formulary will not be included in your Annual Notice of Change, so be sure you call your insurance carrier to see if your prescription drugs will be covered for the 2023 plan year.If your prescription drugs aren’t covered, it’s wise to use the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to find a plan that does cover them.5. Talk To Your DoctorAnother “Medicare must-do” is to make sure all of your doctors and healthcare facilities will remain in network with your current Medicare plan. If they aren’t, you may want to take advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.So be sure to ask your doctor if he or she plans on changing health plan affiliations over the next year.What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?The first thing to know is that you cannot use the Medicare Annual Election Period to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time.But if you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you’d like to change your Medicare coverage, here are some things you can do during the Medicare Annual Election Period:Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.Disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare.Change from one prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) to another.Enroll in a prescription drug plan.Cancel your prescription drug coverage.What Are The Benefits of a Medicare Advantage Plan?Understanding your Medicare plan options - starting with a Medicare Advantage plan - is a smart first step to take because you can switch, enroll into or disenroll from Medicare Advantage plans during AEP.Medicare Advantage plans, otherwise known as “Medicare Part C” or “MA Plans,” bundle Original Medicare (Parts A and B) services into one plan. These plans are offered by private insurance companies. And while Original Medicare offers you a number of benefits, it may not cover health and medical services you might need.Medicare Advantage plans are appealing to many people because they’re considered “all-in-one” plans that give you an annual cap on your spending as well as access to extra benefits, which may include: Dental and vision coveragePrescription drug coverageAccess to fitness programsHealth incentive programsRides to medical appointmentsTelemedicine servicesNote: If you have limited income, you might also qualify for extra savings on Medicare costs through these programs.Medicare Savings Programs. These programs help pay for some of your Medicare Part A and Part B out-of-pocket costs, such as copays, deductibles and premiums. Most programs are for Medicare beneficiaries who also qualify for Medicaid. And as mentioned, Medicaid covers the majority of your costs when you join a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan. You can check if you qualify through your local Medicaid office.Medicare Extra Help. Extra Help reduces your Medicare prescription drug plan costs. You should contact Social Security to check your eligibility for Extra Help if you have an existing Medicare drug plan or you join one during AEP. Find A Medicare Advantage Plan During AEPTo enroll in an eligible plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, you can use our comparison tool as a guide to assess your needs and help you choose a Medicare plan. Or, you can give us a call.Our licensed insurance agents are available to help 7 days a week. Call us toll-free at 1-888-605-1433 (TTY 711). Weekdays: 8am – 11pm ET Saturday: 10am – 7pm ET Sunday: 11am – 6pm ET Tip: Be sure to have these 3 items handy before you call us or enroll in a Medicare plan online during AEP:Your Medicare number, which is found on your red, white and blue ID card.Your list of prescription drugs and preferred pharmacy.Your list of preferred doctors and hospitals.We’re here to help you compare your options and find you a Medicare plan that meets your individual needs. 
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For many seniors, having a walk-in tub can be very helpful. When you have limited mobility, getting in or out of a traditional tub can be very difficult. If you have Medicare for your health insurance coverage, you might wonder, “Can a walk-in tub be covered by Medicare?” This guide will help you understand if this type of tub is considered durable medical equipment and eligible for coverage. Let’s get started! Does Medicare cover walk-in tubs? Does Medicare cover the cost of a walk-in tub? Original Medicare covers specific types of durable medical equipment (DME) as long as you get the equipment from a DME provider that accepts assignment from Medicare.  Durable Medical Equipment must meet the following requirements: Can be used repeatedlyIs used only for a medical reasonIs used in the patient’s homeIs expected to last 3 years or longerIs not useful to people who are not sick or injuredUnfortunately, a walk-in tub is not considered DME by Original Medicare. However, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be able to get coverage for a walk-in tub using that plan if your doctor prescribes it.How much are walk-in tubs for the elderly?Walk-in tubs can be quite expensive. For a basic model, you could pay between $2,000 and $3,000. Wheelchair-accessible tubs are more than twice as expensive, with prices between $5,000 and $10,000. There’s also the cost of installation to consider, which can vary significantly based on where you live, your bathroom layout, and what types of plumbing, tile work, and other changes need to be made.Getting a walk-in tub is a significant investment, which is why so many seniors would like to have help from Medicare in paying for it.How to get Medicare to pay for a walk-in tubWhile you won’t be able to get Original Medicare to pay for a walk-in tub, you might have better luck with a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans can offer additional benefits above and beyond what Original Medicare provides.Before you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure it fits your needs. For example, they often have specific medical provider networks, and you’ll want to ensure that your preferred doctors and specialists are included. You also want to compare monthly premiums, deductibles, and copayments when you are deciding between plans.A walk-in tub can help you significantly if you have mobility issues, but there are other options that are less expensive. For example, you might look to installing grab bars in your bathroom to help you balance. These can cost as little as $75, up to $200 or so.Keep in mind that Original Medicare doesn’t cover these items, but a Medicare Advantage plan might. This could provide savings to you not just in terms of the walk-in shower, if covered by the plan, but with your overall Medicare costs.  Contact us to learn more about Medicare and walk-in tubsIf you have questions about other aspects of your Medicare coverage, we’re here to help. When you’re comparing Medicare plans and trying to choose the right option for your needs, talking to a licensed agent can help put your mind at ease.Contact us today to compare plans or ask questions about your Medicare coverage!
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