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Medicare changes of 2019

The coming year, 2019, is a huge year for Medicare beneficiaries. There will be many changes and most of them are beneficial. In 2010, lawmakers did away with the Medicare Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage Plans. The 21st Century Cures Act means that now they are bringing it back, starting January 1st.

This Open Enrollment Period will begin on January 1 and end on March 31.

During this time beneficiaries get a one-time opportunity to change from Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan. You could also disenroll for the Medicare Advantage program all together and switch to Traditional Medicare.

Return of the Open Enrollment Period

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period will replace the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) that used to be from January 1 until February 14.

The new Medicare changes of 2019 will make possible changing from the subpar Medicare Advantage plan to a more suitable plan.

During the enrollment period, beneficiaries will get a one-time opportunity to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan. You may also disenroll for the Medicare Advantage program all together and switch to Traditional Medicare, with or without a Part D Prescription Drug plan.

If you’re Medicare eligible and enrolled in a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan, you need to make changes to your Part D Prescription Drug plan during the Annual Election Period (AEP) October 15 through December 7 of every year.

Beneficiaries Need to Know

Each year by September 30, Medicare Advantage plan recipients receive an Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing insurance carrier for their Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription drug plan providers.

As a Medicare recipient residing in Missouri or Kansas, the best thing you can do is make changes during AEP, changes that you’ll be pleased with for the following year.

Part A Premium Increases

Approximately 99% of beneficiaries won’t have to pay a Medicare Part A premium.

You should notice an increase if:

  • If you have fewer than 40 quarters of employment or you’re disabled.
    Anyone that has exhausted other entitlement will pay the full premium, which increased by $15. The new premium is $437 a month for 2019.
  • If you had a minimum of 30 quarters or were married to someone with 30 quarters of coverage.
    If you have 30 quarters of coverage you may buy into Part A at a lowered monthly fee, which would be $240 in 2019, an $8 increase.

This is because you are technically voluntarily enrolled into Part A.

Part A Deductible Increases

The Part A deductible increased by $24, for a total of $1,340 in 2019.

  • Beneficiaries with only Medicare as their coverage will be expected to pay the $1,340 when they are admitted to the hospital.

If you have Original Medicare, you’ll be expected to pay a coinsurance amount of $341 per day for the 61st through 90th day of hospitalization in 2019.

For lifetime reserve days, the amount increased to $682 per day.

If you or a loved one is in a skilled nursing facility, you 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 of $3.

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Part B Premium Increases

Part B premium for 2019 will be $135.50, which is only an increase of $1.50.

In addition to these changes, CMS has added a high-income bracket, 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. 

The income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) impacts about 5 percent of people with Medicare Part B.

Part B Deductible Increase

The Part B deductible will increase $2 and become $185 in 2019. Beneficiaries with a Medicare Supplement Plan C or Plan F have coverage for this deductible and won’t be subject to its costs.

Medicare Advantage plan enrollees have low copays and deductibles that shouldn’t increase with the Part B deductible.

First Dollar Coverage Plans are Going Away in 2020

In order to reduce healthcare spending, Medicare is eliminating 1st dollar coverage plans come 2020. This includes Plan C and Plan F.

First dollar coverage plans are Medicare Supplement plans that allow beneficiaries to not pay anything out of pocket. These plans cover all copayments and deductibles associated with Original Medicare.

Studies have shown beneficiaries using more healthcare services when enrolled in a 1st dollar coverage plan. The theory is that beneficiaries will go less often for minor things if they must pay something to go see the doctor.

If you’re on one of these plans, you’ll be grandfathered in. However, come 2020 your premiums may increase due to no new enrollees. Instead of Plan C, Plan N is recommended. Instead of Plan F, Plan G is recommended.

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