Fedweek

The Medicare program has announced rates for 2019, with a $135.50 standard monthly premium for Part B (physicians and related services), up from $134. For certain enrollees the premium is slightly lower while a surcharge applies to those with annual taxable incomes above $85,000 for single filers and $170,000 for joint filers. The Part B annual deductible will increase by $2 to $185.

Many federal retirees who continue their FEHB coverage enroll in Part B even at the cost of the additional premium because the Medicare program covers some services that FEHB doesn’t cover. For those with both, Medicare is the primary payer and the FEHB plan acts as a supplement. Some FEHB plans offer financial incentives to their enrollees who are enrolled in Medicare as well, for example by waiving copays and deductibles.

In Part A, which covers hospitalization and related costs, the deductible will rise from $1,364 for the first 60 days, an increase of $24, and proportionate boosts also will apply to deductibles for longer periods. Few Medicare enrollees need to pay a Part A premium.

The average premium in Part D prescription drug coverage will be about $33, and the phaseout of the “donut hole” deductible structure will continue. Most federal retirees who have FEHB coverage do not elect Part D because their FEHB plans already provide similar if not superior drug coverage for a cost that is built into the FEHB premium.

More on FEHB and Medicare Coverage at ask.FEDweek.com