Retirement & Financial Planning Report

You probably already know how complicated and confusing Medicare can be. Changes are made annually to benefit beneficiaries or the Medicare program. 2019 is not immune to the annual changes, and some big ones are happening.

Lindsay Engle, MedicareFAQ

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period was discontinued in 2010. Now, in 2019 the OEP is making a return.

From 2011-2018 Medicare beneficiaries were given the Medicare Advantage Dis-enrollment Period (MADP), during this period beneficiaries could dis-enroll from their MA plan and switch only to Original Medicare.

The Medicare OEP will begin on January 1st and end on March 31st. During this time Medicare beneficiaries can dis-enroll from a Medicare Advantage plan and enroll into another Medicare Advantage plan. You also have the option of switching back to Original Medicare, with or without Part D coverage.

It’s important for beneficiaries to know that they won’t be able to switch Part D prescription drug plans. If you are currently enrolled in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan you will need to change your policy during the Annual Enrollment Period from October 15 through December 7.

Your FEHB plan is the secondary payer of your healthcare benefits and Medicare is your primary payer if:
– You’re 65+ AND not employed in the federal service OR
– You’re 65+ AND only enrolled in Medicare Part B only, regardless of your current employment status

More on Medicare and FEHB at ask.FEDweek.com

Additionally, by September 30th, Medicare Advantage recipients will 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.

CMS shares plan changes for the following year in October, several months before the new year. Medicare.gov is an awesome resource for Medicare beneficiaries, you can use it to compare plans, look up information and learn more about Medicare.

Medicare Part A and B Increases in 2019

Changes for 2019 will take place January 1st. It’s important to know about the increases in Part A and Part B, including premium and deductibles.

Part A Premium Increases

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

However, if you had fewer than 40 quarters of employment or you’re disabled, you probably pay a monthly premium to be voluntarily enrolled in Medicare Part A. If this is the case, you should notice an increased premium.

If you had a minimum of 30 quarters or were married to someone with at least 30 quarters of coverage, you may buy into Part A at a lowered monthly rate, which would be $240 in 2019, an $8 increase from this 2018.

Those that have exhausted other entitlement will pay the full premium which increased $15 since last year to $437 a month for 2019.

See also Medicare Costs at a Glance at Medicare.gov

Part A Deductible Increases

The Part A deductible will increase by $24, for a total of $1,340 in 2019. Beneficiaries with Traditional Medicare as their only coverage will be expected to pay this when they are admitted to the hospital.

Those same 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 from $670 to $682 per day.

Those receiving Medicare in a skilled nursing facility can expect their 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.

Part B Premium Increases

The new premium for 2019 will be $135.50 which is only $1.50 more per month than in 2018.

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

CMS has added an additional income bracket and 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.

Part B Deductible Increase

The Part B deductible will increase from $183 to $185 in 2019. Beneficiaries with a Medicare Supplement Plan C or Plan F have coverage for this deductible.

Medicare Advantage plan enrollees have low copays and deductibles that shouldn’t change with the increase with the Part B deductible. Having coverage in addition to Medicare will help cover the costs of many of these increases.

Lindsay Engle writes for MedicareFAQ, a resource center for Medicare recipients to learn more about Medicare options and Medicare Supplement plans.