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Medicare beneficiaries in Minnesota will find more health insurance options for 2020, including policies sold by two new companies and more plans that don't charge a premium.

The open-enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries to select new Medicare Advantage and Part D plans for next year begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

Health insurance companies aren't allowed to tell consumers any specifics about pricing and plan options for 2020 until Oct. 1, but government agencies on Tuesday started providing some information.

"We want people to look at what they currently have and look at the other options that are available," said Kelli Jo Greiner, the Medicare product manager with the Minnesota Board on Aging. "The formularies can change, the provider networks can change and people need to make sure that those two things are still going to be in place for them come January."

Greiner said Medicare Advantage premiums for the most part will hold steady for next year.

Just over 1 million beneficiaries in Minnesota are enrolled in Medicare, which is the federal government's health insurance program for people age 65 and over. The program also covers some younger people with certain health care needs.

The state's health insurance market for Medicare beneficiaries saw a big shake-up for 2019 as a federal law forced insurers to stop selling a popular form of coverage called Medicare Cost plans across most counties in the state including the Twin Cities metro.

The change prompted about 300,000 people to make a choice between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. Consumers with original Medicare often buy Medigap and Part D supplementary coverage, while Medicare Advantage coverage comes from private insurance companies that typically include drug coverage as part of their benefits.

About 409,000 people in Minnesota are enrolled in Medicare Advantage health plans, while about 398,000 people have stand-alone Part D drug plans.

In 2020, the number of plans sold across Minnesota will increase from 74 this year to 85, while stand-alone Part D drug coverage choices will grow by one to 29 options.

Premiums in Medicare Advantage plans should be relatively flat, with the average increasing by less than 1% to $91.26 per month, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The state's Medicare market will see one new company selling Medicare Advantage plans and one new seller of Part D plans, officials with the Minnesota Board on Aging said. There also are new Medicare Supplement options for people who buy "Medigap" policies that work in conjunction with the original Medicare program.

A company called Clear Spring Health will be new in the state's market for Part D coverage, according to the board on aging. In addition, state officials said a company called Lasso Healthcare will offer the state's first Medicare Advantage plan that includes a Medicare Savings Account.

"It's similar to a Health Savings Account, but it's not a Health Savings Account," Greiner said, referring to accounts that for many years have been an option in some employer health plans. "We've never had that in our state before, so that's another new option."

The average premium for Part D drug plans in Minnesota will decrease from $15 to $13.20 per month, the federal government said. But deductibles, in general, will be a bigger part of those policies, Greiner said.

Medicare Advantage plans that are sold without a premium — but feature higher out-of-pocket costs when people use care — have been popular across the country. While the plans weren't a big seller in Minnesota in 2019, four health insurers next year will newly introduce zero premium Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota, according to data provided Tuesday to the Star Tribune by the board on aging.

Christopher Snowbeck • 612-673-4744 Twitter: @chrissnowbeck