As our loved one’s grow older they may need help managing their health conditions, treatments, or with Medicare; meaning you may find yourself in the role as caregiver.
When you’re a caregiver, you may be asked to make recommendations or decisions in all those areas, in addition to assisting with daily activities. When you understand the new changes in Medicare and the various enrollment periods, you’ll be able to make important decisions for your loved one’s healthcare needs.
Medicare Changes in 2019
There are a lot of changes happening next year, and some of the changes will affect all beneficiaries, while others will apply to individuals on certain plans. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their handbook that beneficiaries receive in the fall.
CMS also made the online Medicare Plan Finder tool easier to use, including a “coverage wizard” that helps enrollees compare out-of-pocket costs and coverage options between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.
The following are six changes to Medicare that every caregiver should know. These changes are scheduled to take effect beginning in January 2019.
Medicare Part A and B Increases in 2019
The 2019 changes will take place January 1st and be in effect all year. There will be increases in Part A and Part B, including premium and deductibles.
Part A Premium Increases
Most beneficiaries don’t have to pay a Medicare Part A premium. If you have fewer than 40 quarters of employment or you’re disabled, you probably pay a monthly premium to voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part A you should notice an increase.
If you had at least 30 quarters or were married to someone with at least 30 quarters of coverage, you may buy into Part A at a reduced monthly rate, which will be $240 in 2019, an $8 increase from this year.
Certain people who have exhausted other entitlement will pay the full premium which increased $15 since last year to $437 a month for 2019.
Part A Deductible Increases
The Part A deductible will increase $24 to $1,340 in 2019. Beneficiaries with Traditional Medicare as their only coverage will be expected to pay this as they are admitted to the hospital.
Beneficiaries will be required to pay a coinsurance amount of $341 per day for the 61st through 90th day of hospitalization in 2019. In 2018, the amount was $335 per day from days 61 to 90. For lifetime reserve days the amount went up from $670 to $682 per day.
Medicare recipients in a skilled nursing facility can expect the daily coinsurance for days 21 through 100 of extended care services in a benefit period to be $170.50 in 2019, this is an increase from $167.50 in 2018.
Part B Premium Increases
The new premium for 2019 will be $135.50 which is only $1.50 more per month.
The income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) affects roughly 5 percent of people with Medicare Part B.
In 2019, if your income is $500,000 or more ($750,000 or more for a married couple) then you will pay $460.50 a month for Part B in 2019.
Part B Deductible Increase
The Part B deductible will increase from $183 to $185 in 2019. Beneficiaries with a Medicare Supplement Plan C or Plan F have coverage for this deductible.
Medicare Advantage plan enrollees have low copays and deductibles that won’t necessarily increase with the Part B deductible.
Help Affording Medicare Increases
Having additional coverage to Medicare will help cover the costs of many of these increases, talking to a licensed insurance expert can make your life easier and help you gain confidence in your health care coverage.
The Return of the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) will take the place of the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) which was January 1 through February 14 every year. The MADP would only allow beneficiaries to disenroll from their Medicare Advantage coverage and switch back to Original Medicare, they couldn’t switch from MA plan to MA plan.
There are some things beneficiaries will be able to do during the OEP, like:
· Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
o They can only make one change, so choose wisely during the OEP.
· Disenroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and switch back to Traditional Medicare with or without a Part D plan.
This new law does allow beneficiaries to make plan changes; however, it’s important to understand that you won’t be able to switch Part D Prescription Drug plans during the Medicare Open Enrollment Period.
Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan need to make changes to their Part D Prescription Drug plan during Annual Election Period (AEP (October 15 through December 7 of every year).
Each year by September 30th, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their current insurance carrier for their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription drug plan providers.
When this information is received it’s important that you look at the changes and adjust coverage if needed. CMS will post plan changes for the following year in October, months before the new year. Medicare.gov is an incredible resource for caregivers; they can use it to compare plans side by side, look up answers to questions they have and learn more about Medicare.
Lindsay Engle is the Healthcare Expert at MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for senior healthcare. Navigating the Medicare maze can be hard, that’s where our resource center can help.