There is a lot about Medicare changes coming in 2020 might surprise the average person. For the uninitiated, Medicare is the federal government’s health insurance plan for Americans over 65, for certain younger people with disabilities, and others with terminal illnesses.
It’s not just for senior citizens anymore.
There are an estimated 44 million people on Medicare, and there’s a lot that goes into finding the right plan. If navigating what’s right for you is troublesome or confusing, you might want to utilize someone like Alan Haas, a Master Agent at Ohio-based LCTI Professionals. He advises clients every day on what Original Medicare and private insurance components will work best for them – and he and agents like him can save you thousands of dollars. Haas says changes are coming to Medicare this year, just like in previous years.
“It’s always evolving,” says Haas, a Master Agent with 20 years of experience in senior healthcare. “It’s never stagnant, so there will always going to be changes. Now this year was a little bit bigger than most.”
Most importantly, can you fight these changes? No. You can’t. But it’s vitally important to know your options and what to do about them.
In 2020, the Supplemental Plan C and the most popular F will no longer be offered. For many, this change was met with concern and confusion. Many believed they would have to find a new plan but fear not – it isn’t really the end of the world.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who oversee Medicare, just want everyone to start paying their Part B deductible along with their premiums. And while you can stay on your F Plan if you wish to, Haas recommends switching over to another plan. The G plan is identical to the F with the exception you’ll have to pay your Part B deductible. Staying on your F plan might make your premiums start to climb.
“I saw this before with the elimination of the J plan with no new members, the risk pool gets dirtier,” Haas says. “People will start to jump to better options those that are left are going to be older and sicker and cannot move for them the decision is pay ever escalating premiums or jump to a Medicare Advantage plan.”
You probably saw this one coming.
In addition to wanting more seniors to have skin in the game by paying their own Part B deductible, CMS will be raising Medicare premiums and deductibles. The deductible for Medicare Part A (your Hospitalization) will go from $1,364.00 to $1408.00. Part B (which covers everything else, basically) will be $198, up from $185. Thankfully most do not pay a premium for Part A, but your Part B premium will be rising to $144.60 up from $135.50.
Can you fight this change? The short answer is no. Rates are set by CMS, and they pretty much make the rules.
But you can find ways to make other aspects of coverage more affordable, like prescription drug prices.
How often do you hear good news about prescription drug prices? For the third year in a row, the Trump Administration has managed to decrease the cost of Medicare Part D drugs by 13.5 percent and are slated for another cost reduction. Even as Part D enrollments rise by more than 12 percent, enrollees are saving more than $1.9 billion in prescription drug costs. Alan Haas says you can potentially make the cost lower on an individual basis, just by price shopping, where you get your prescriptions filled.
“Where you get it filled makes a big difference,” Haas says. “My clients send me a list of their drugs, and I show them the three best options – sometimes the difference is thousands of dollars.”
Haas goes on to say many times, grocery stores have savings far beyond what the chain pharmacies can offer.
“I guess they figure if you are filling a prescription you are more likely to buy your Thanksgiving dinner there.”
What every senior needs to know if your drug plan drops your medication or switches you to a generic, and it is not working, you are not powerless. CMS has a process of appeal. Mr. Haas points out most of the time, it is resolved to the enrollee’s benefit.
“They may make you jump through a hoop, but you will likely get satisfaction.”
If you are unsure of what Medicare Advantage is, just know that Advantage means you are getting your Medicare from a private health insurance company, and these plans have become more popular in recent years. The most popular plans are premium-free (although you must continue to pay your Part B Premium) and have a drug plan built in. They also have a list of goodies you cannot get with Original Medicare, paired with a supplement. But within a geographic area, the plans are similar, whether you buy one, for example, from Humana or United Healthcare. So, these different products are how they try to separate themselves.
“Anthem has a hearing aid benefit that covers up to $3,000 a year, Humana has a benefit where you can spend $1,000 toward dental,” Haas says. “They’re all trying to appeal to the marketplace by finding unique niches to differentiate themselves from the other guys.”
He says the most important thing often is how the Advantage Plan handles your drugs – especially if they are of the more expensive variety. If drugs are not a concern, find what’s right for your unique needs and what gives you the most personal value.
You may want to consider utilizing a senior healthcare sales professional as this service cost you nothing. They are typically compensated by the companies you choose.
Given the constant change every year, that might not be a bad idea.