Medicare Changes in 2019

Medicare Changes in 2019

As if Medicare wasn’t difficult enough to navigate as is, every year you can expect some changes to the program.

Changes don’t always have to be a bad thing. Of course rates change, and usually go up, but sometimes improvements are made to the program to make your life easier. So let’s take a look at some of the Medicare changes in 2019.

Premiums

Of course, there are a few changes to premiums in Medicare this year; though not all are increases. Part D basic premiums are decreasing, and more Part D plans will be available compared to last year. The premium for Part B in 2019 is $135.50/month, about a $1.50 more than last year, though about 3.5% of enrollees will pay less. Unfortunately Part A premiums, deductible, and coinsurance are higher in 2019. Medicare Advantage premiums are decreasing; the number of plans are increasing; and enrollment is projected to increase.

For stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans, average basic premiums were expected to decline by about $1.09 per month in 2019, dropping to a projected average premium of $32.50/month, down from  $33.59/month in 2018.

It’s also worth noting that a new high-income bracket will apply to enrollees with income above $500,000. In previous years, everyone making a $160,000 or more were lumped into the same category. Now people in this new income bracket will pay $460.50/month for Part B in 2019.

Deductibles

As I mentioned above, the Part A deductible is increasing this year. In 2018 it was $1,340, but it’s increasing to $1,364 in 2019. This increase applies to all enrollees, although many enrollees have supplemental coverage that pays all or part of the Part A deductible.

The Part B deductible increased to $185 for 2019, a $2 increase from 2018. And while Part D premiums decreased in 2019, the maximum allowable deductible for standard Part D plans increased to $415, up from $405 in 2018.

The Donut Hole

According to healthcare.gov, most plans with Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) have a coverage gap (called a “donut hole”). This means that after you and your drug plan have spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, you have to pay all costs out-of-pocket for your prescriptions up to a yearly limit. Once you have spent up to the yearly limit, your coverage gap ends and your drug plan helps pay for covered drugs again.

Now in, 2019, the donut hole for most brand name drugs will be closed thanks to the spending bill Congress passed last month. Generic drugs’ donut hole will be closed in 2020.

More details on Medicare changes in 2019 can be found at medicareresources.org. And of course if you have any questions about your coverage, or if you’re not sure what coverage you have/need, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help!

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