Home » Columnists » 2018 Medicare coverage changes

2018 Medicare coverage changes

Sudhir Mathuria  Licensed  Professional Health Life 360 6776 Southwest Freeway, Suite # 178 Houston TX 77074 713-771-2900 www.MyMedicarePlanning.com

Sudhir Mathuria
Licensed Professional
Health Life 360
6776 Southwest Freeway, Suite # 178
Houston TX 77074
713-771-2900
www.MyMedicarePlanning.com

Changes to be aware of for 2018 include:
Starting in April 2018, Medicare beneficiaries will begin receiving new Medicare ID cards that don’t have Social Security numbers on them. This change was announced in September 2017, and it’s an effort to combat identity theft and fraud. The new cards, which will be mailed out over the course of a year (all beneficiaries will have them by April 2019), will have randomly generated ID numbers instead of Social Security numbers. You can continue to use your current card until your new one arrives. Once it does, you’ll want to destroy and securely dispose of your old one, and begin using the new one instead.
• Medicare recipients reaching the donut hole will benefit from better prescription drug discounts. The gap in prescription drug coverage (the donut hole) starts when someone reaches the initial coverage limit ($3,750 in 2018), and ends when they have spent $5,000 (these thresholds are each $50 higher than they were in 2017). Prior to 2011, Medicare Part D enrollees paid the full cost of their medications while in the donut hole. But the ACA has been steadily closing the donut hole, and it will be fully closed by 2020. At that point, enrollees will pay just 25 percent of the cost of their drugs all the way up to the catastrophic coverage threshold. For 2018, while in the donut hole, enrollees will pay 35 percent of the cost of brand name drugs (down from 40 percent in 2017) and 44 percent of the cost of generic drugs (down from 51 percent in 2017). The Medicare Part D deductible will be $405 in 2018, up slightly from $400 in 2017.
• Medicare Part B premiums will fluctuate again for 2018. In 2017, most Medicare Part B enrollees paid an average of $109/month for their Part B premium, although enrollees with income above $85,000 had higher premiums. But the standard premium for Medicare Part B was $134/month in 2017. The reason most enrollees paid an average of only $109/month was because the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security wasn’t large enough to cover the full increase in Part B premiums. For 70 percent of Part B enrollees, their premiums are deducted from their Social Security checks, and net Social Security checks cannot decrease from one year to the next (the “hold harmless” provision). The COLA for 2017 was only enough to cover about four dollars in additional Part B premiums, so the $134/month premium for 2017 only applied to enrollees to whom the “hold harmless” provision didn’t apply. COLA numbers for the coming year aren’t released until October, but it’s widely expected that there will be a COLA of around 2 percent for 2018 (as opposed to 0.3 percent for 2017, and zero percent for 2016).
• New income brackets for Part B enrollees with high incomes. As part of the Medicare payment solution that Congress enacted in 2015 to solve the “doc fix” problem, new income brackets were created to determine Part B premiums for high-income Medicare enrollees. The new brackets take effect in 2018. For Medicare purposes, “high income” begins at $85,001 for a single individual, and $170,001 for a married couple. Enrollees with income between $85,001 and $107,000 ($170,001 and $214,000 for a married couple) won’t see any changes to their bracket. But enrollees with income above those limits may find that they are bumped into a higher bracket. The highest bracket (i.e. with the highest Part B premium) will now apply to those with income above $160,000 ($320,000 for a married couple), whereas the highest bracket didn’t apply in 2017 until an enrollee’s income reached $241,000 ($428,000 for a married couple). The Medicare Part B premiums for 2018 have not yet been set, but slightly less wealthy Medicare enrollees will begin paying the highest prices for Medicare Part B in 2018.
• Medicare Advantage plans continue to see changes. While healthcare reform is slowly reducing rebates paid to Medicare Advantage plans, these plans continue to be popular. 31 percent of Medicare recipients were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2016 – a significant increase from the enrollment total in 2009 when the ACA was signed into law.
Most Medicare beneficiaries should receive their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) from their existing Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan providers by Sept. 30. CMS will make information available to the public on Medicare.gov in October. The Medicare website is also a tremendous asset for individuals with questions about Medicare rules, timelines, Medicare Part D, etc.
It’s important to carefully review the information sent to you by your plan provider, since this will cover any possible changes. For example, increasing co-pays, changes to drug formularies or changes to treatment coverage. Once open enrollment gets underway, you can make changes that reflect your current health coverage needs.
To understand various Types of To choose right Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, OR Medicare Supplement Plan for 2018 contact-771-2900.


More news

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *