Medicare Changes Caregivers Need to Know for 2019

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This article was written by Lindsay Engle of MedicareFAQ, a Medicare educational resource center and insurance coverage portal. We are sharing it because it is a good primer on some of the changes coming in 2019 to Medicare that caregivers should know about and understand. Publishing this content is not an endorsement of the insurance products or services available via MedicareFAQ. – eds.

In 2019 some major changes are happening with Medicare. Understanding the changes happening in Medicare will help you make the best healthcare decisions possible for your loved ones (and maybe for yourself!).

These changes below are what caregivers need to know while taking care of their loved ones.
 

2019 Brings Important Changes to Medicare

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave their handbook an update, which all Medicare beneficiaries will receive in the fall. In the beginning of October CMS released the 2019 changes to Medicare Part A and Part B programs, in addition to, bringing the Medicare Open Enrollment Period back.
 

Medicare Part A and B Increases

Part A Premium Increases

January 1st, 2019 the deductible and premium amounts will increase from the cost in 2018. Medicare Part A covers inpatient services, hospital stays, and skilled nursing facilities in addition to some home health care services.

  • Majority of beneficiaries will not pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A; if you have worked for at least ten years of your life – you will qualify for Part A coverage without paying a monthly premium. These beneficiaries have at least 40 quarters of Medicare covered employment.
  • For any individual that does not qualify, and voluntarily enrolls in the Medicare Part A program will notice an increase in their monthly cost.
  • The reduced monthly rate for an individual with 30 quarters of coverage or is married to someone who has 30 quarters of coverage, will increase 8$ making the rate $240/month beginning January 1st.
  • The full premium amount per month has increased $15 since 2018, making any person who has exhausted all of their other benefits, having monthly payments of $437 in 2019.

 

Part A Deductible Increases

  • Medicare Part A deductible for an individual who is admitted to the hospital has increased $24 making the deductible $1,364.
  • Part A covers the share of cost for the first 60 days.
  • The 61st — 90th day of an impatient hospital stay will now be $341 per day compared to 2018 when it was $335 per day during a benefit period.
  • The rate of daily coinsurance for lifetime reserve days increased $12, making the cost in 2019 $682.
  • The rate increase for beneficiaries in a skilled nursing facility will be $170.50 compared to $167.50 in 2018.

 

Part B Premium Increases

Medicare Part B covers your doctor’s visits and services, outpatient hospital services, specific home health services, medical equipment and other health or medically necessary services NOT covered by part A.

  • An increase of $1.50 will be applied to the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees. Making the rate $135.50 in 2019, compared to $134 in 2018.

 

Part B Deductible Increases

  • The annual deductible for ALL Part B beneficiaries is $185 in 2019. This increased $2 ($183) from 2018.
  • Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans will not be affected by these changes.

 

Medicare Open Enrollment Period is Back!

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period will be changing. Every year this disenrollment period is from Janurary 1st-February 14th.

This is the period when you can drop or change your Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Medicare Part C; then you may return to Original Medicare – which is Medicare Part A and B.

In January 2019 the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period will be from January 1st – March 31st. During this period, you may enroll in a separate Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
 

Say Goodbye to First Dollar Coverage Plans in 2020

What are first dollar coverage plans anyway?
First dollar coverage plans are plans that beneficiaries only have to pay their premium and the rest of the cost is covered under this plan.

Two plans that will be removed for new enrollees in 2020 are Medicare Plan F and Plan C. The reason these two plans are considered first dollar plans is because the only out of pocket cost for beneficiaries is their premium payment; meanwhile everything else is covered.
 

Can you Keep Plan F or C after 2020?

The answer is yes! If you have enrolled in either Plan C or Plan F before the policy changes in January 2020, you may keep your plan. You will also have the option to change to a different company for these two plans if you are currently enrolled in them.

Plans F and Plan C will be replaced with Plans G and D. In comparison to Plan F, Plan G will require you to pay the annual Part B deductible. This will go into effect January 2020.

Many beneficiaries are already going in this direction because it saves them roughly $200 or more than Plan F after they pay their Part B deductible. The difference between Plans C and D is the same. Beneficiaries will be required to pay the Part B deductible for Plan D and not for Plan C.

Since individuals with these plans have the option to change their Medigap at any given time if you qualify medically, this change will not be much of an issue.

As we age, our health typically begins to decline, and medical coverage becomes more vital than ever. Act now, look at your plan/plans and determine the potential money you could save in addition to the longevity of your plan.

Make the decision to stick with or get off Plans F or C before 2020. Contact your Medicare agent to help you with any additional information you need to make your decision. There is a potential to save thousands of dollars in the future.

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