With a new year comes new changes to Medicare. You may be eligible for Medicare sometime soon, or maybe Medicare’s been your health coverage for years now. Either way, the annual changes that came with 2020 could impact you and it’s important to understand how.
Premium and Deductible for 2020
Most times, beneficiaries don’t pay a premium for Part A benefits. For the few individuals that do, you’ll pay a premium ranging from $252 to $458 each month depending on how much you’ve contributed to Medicare taxes over the years.
In 2019, the Part A annual deductible was $1,364. With this year’s changes, it has increased to $1,408, which all Medicare beneficiaries will encounter. However, beneficiaries with a Medigap plan will not have to pay this deductible. All Medigap plans, with the exception of Plan A, cover the Part A deductible.
The Part B monthly premium also saw an increase of $9.10, bringing the total premium cost to $144.60 while the new Part B deductible is $198—a jump of $13 from 2019.
Medicare has discontinued its first-dollar coverage plans this year as a result of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The U.S. Congress put this in action to have patients pay out-of-pocket for some health care services with hope that beneficiaries won’t overuse health care resources.
First-dollar coverage plans include Plan C, Plan F, and high-deductible Plan F. However, anyone eligible for Medicare prior to 2020 can still enroll in any first-dollar coverage plan. If you’re currently enrolled in one, you’ll be grandfathered in, meaning there are no changes you need to make at this time.
For those not eligible for one of the first-dollar coverage plans (those Medicare eligible after 2020), your next best option is Plan G. The only benefit Plan G doesn’t cover is the Part B deductible.
New Rules Regarding Guaranteed Issue Rights
Guaranteed Issue Rights are in place to help protect you in certain circumstances, but with the recent changes to Medicare, we’ve also seen changes to these policies as well.
Some examples of change in circumstance that would grant you Guaranteed Issue include if you’re leaving employer coverage or if you qualify for Trial Rights due to leaving a Medigap plan for a Medicare Advantage plan.
Up until 2020, Plan G didn’t accept Guaranteed Issue, so anyone who had Guaranteed Issue Rights couldn’t use those rights to enroll in Plan G. However, because of MACRA, newly eligible beneficiaries can now exercise these rights if they choose to enroll in Plan G.
The beneficiaries who were eligible for Medicare before Jan. 1 are considered non-newly eligible. If you fall into this category, you can still use Guaranteed Issue Rights to enroll in Plan F or any other plan that accepts these rights. However, you can’t use them to enroll in Plan G.
Those beneficiaries who became or will become eligible for Medicare after Jan. 1 fall under the category of newly eligible. If you fall into this group, you’re eligible to use Guaranteed Issue Rights to enroll in Plan G since you’re not eligible for Plan F.
Introduction of New High-Deductible Plan
A new high-deductible plan, high-deductible Plan G, was introduced this year with a deductible of $2,340. In this plan, once you meet the deductible, the benefits will kick in at 100 percent. All beneficiaries are eligible to enroll in this new high-deductible plan. However, you can only use Guaranteed Issue rights if you weren’t eligible until after 2020.
It’s important to note that premiums are less for the high-deductible version of Plan G than they are with the standard Plan G. The high-deductible version is a great choice for those who prefer to have a lower monthly premium in exchange for paying the high-deductible upfront.
New Medicare Advantage Enrollment Window
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period was previously known as the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. The ACA put an end to the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period in 2010, but as of Jan. 1, this enrollment window is back with a new name.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period will occur annually between Jan. 1 and March 31. During this period, Medicare Advantage enrollees can make changes to their current policy, including:
- Switching from your current Advantage plan to another Advantage plan
- Disenrolling from your Advantage plan and going back to Medicare Parts A and B
New Long-Term Care Benefits Included With Medicare Advantage Plans
Historically, Medicare hasn’t covered long-term care for beneficiaries. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced recently that Advantage insurers now have the option of offering long-term care benefits.
While the coverage isn’t mandatory, it’s a benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries. The supplemental benefits will cover both at-home care and some long-term care services including but not limited to meal deliveries, bathing, dressing, eating, and transportation.
Staying on Top of Medicare Changes
Medicare is an ever-changing system. Whether you’re newly enrolled, a seasoned beneficiary, or caring for a beneficiary, you’ll want to stay current with the annual changes. Not only can some of these changes impact your health care, but they can impact your wallet as well.
Lindsay Engle is a Medicare expert at MedicareFAQ. She loves sharing her expertise and knowledge with those who are looking to learn more about Medicare. Her goal is to make sure Medicare beneficiaries are given the right resources to become educated on all their Medicare options.