The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced increases for Part A and Part B, these increases will include premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts.
Medicare Part A & Part B Increases for 2019
The new 2019 changes will take place January 1st and be in effect all year. Medicare changes things regularly, so beneficiaries should expect differences in coverage or costs annually. As the economy grows stronger and inflation occurs, premiums are expected to rise.
2019 Part B Premium Increase
Medicare Part B is designed to cover physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home healthcare services, durable medical equipment (DME supplies), and certain other medical and health services not covered by Medicare Part A.
The standard monthly increase is only $1.50, from $134 in 2018 to $135.50 for 2019. There are going to be about 2 million Medicare beneficiaries that will pay less than the full Part B monthly premium amount. This is because of the hold harmless provision, it limits certain beneficiaries increase in their Part B premium to be no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits.
Since 2007, Medicare beneficiaries Part B premiums have been based on income. The income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) affects roughly 5 percent of people with Medicare Part B. New income brackets were created in 2018 for Part B premiums, this bumped some high-income enrollees into a higher premium bracket.
For 2019, another new bracket has been added, further increasing Part B premiums for enrollees with very high incomes. 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.
2019 Part B Deductible Increase
The Medicare Part B deductible will also see a slight increase, from $183 in 2018 to $185 for 2019.
Medicare Supplement Plans that cover the Part B deductible will only be available to those Medicare eligible prior to 2020. After that, newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries will not be able to purchase a plan that covers the Part B deductible. This is part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which is trying to curb utilization by ensuring that enrollees would incur some out-of-pocket expenses during the year.
Medicare Advantage plan enrollees have low copays and deductibles that don’t necessarily increase with the Part B deductible. Medicare Advantage plan beneficiaries pay the Part B premium, but the Medicare Advantage plan wraps around Part A, Part B and various supplemental coverage together in one plan, with out of pocket costs that are different from Traditional Medicare.
2019 Part A Premium Increase
Medicare Part A covers inpatient and skilled nursing facility care, as well as some home health care services. Approximately 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries don’t pay a premium for Medicare Part A. If you have at least 40 quarters of qualifying employment, you won’t have a Part A premium.
However, if you have fewer than 40 quarters of employment or you’re disabled and pay a monthly premium to voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part A you may 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 individuals who have exhausted other entitlement will pay the full premium with increased to $437 a month for 2019. That is $15 more than in 2018.
2019 Part A Deductible Increase
In 2018, the Part A deductible was $1,340 and in 2019 it will rise to $1,354. This is a $14 increase that beneficiaries are expected to pay when they are admitted to the hospital. That is, if Traditional Medicare is their only coverage.
The Part A inpatient hospital deductible will cover beneficiaries share of costs for the first 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital care in a benefit period.
Medicare 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 for $670 to $682 per day.
Medicare beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities 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.
Solutions to Help You with Medicare Increases
There are options available to Medicare beneficiaries that can provide them with relief from these healthcare increases. Whether you choose a Medicare Supplement or a Medicare Advantage plan, either way some coverage is more beneficial to your wallet than no coverage.
Medicare Supplement Plan Benefits
By having a Medicare Supplement plan you can eliminate all or most out-of-pocket expenses that you would otherwise incur on Original Medicare. Medicare Supplement Plan F and Plan C both cover the Part B deductible and they will be accepting new enrollees until January 2020.
Medicare Supplement plans allow you to see any doctor that accepts Medicare Assignment and they don’t require a referral. There is a monthly premium that is typically associated with the coverage provided to you.
Medicare Advantage Plan Benefits
Medicare beneficiaries that choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan will receive their benefits from a private insurer. Premiums and deductibles for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans are already finalized and are unaffected by the increases in Medicare Part A and Part B.
On average Medicare Advantage premiums in 2019 are estimated to decrease by 6 percent to $28 per month in 2019. Medicare Advantage plans typically have a network of doctors and occasionally include prescription drug coverage. Many Medicare Advantage plans also require a referral.
Talking to a licensed insurance expert in your state can help you determine what options are best for you and your healthcare needs. If you would like to see rates in your area for Medicare Supplement Plans, give us a call today or complete our online rate comparison form here to have rates emailed to you.