2019 Medicare Changes

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By Lindsay Engle

2019 Medicare ChangesBefore we start, if you're caring for a parent who's getting older, a grandparent or even a child that is unable to care for themselves - big props to you for having the courage to take on that responsibility.

Being a caregiver isn’t an easy task, especially when caring for someone who is on Medicare, as benefits and/or policies are constantly changing.

Caring for Your Parent

It can be extremely difficult when you're faced with the task of taking care of someone who used to take care of you.

Questions will arise when your parents begin to need additional help taking care of themselves.

How do you begin giving advice and direction to your parents? How do you transition from the position of one's child to their adult caregiver?

Well, we’re here to answer some of those questions for you!

Medicare is Making Changes in 2019 that Caregivers Should Know About

As a caregiver, part of your responsibilities includes you needing to handle finances, paying monthly bills, and making sure you're up-to-date on changes being made to your loved ones Medicare Insurance.

Starting 2019 Medicare is making some changes that as a caregiver, you need know about.

Medicare Part A Premium Increase - 2019

Inpatient/skilled nursing facility care and certain home health care services will be covered under Medicare Part A.

Most Medicare beneficiaries don't pay a monthly premium for their Part A coverage. This will apply to those with at least 40 quarters of qualifying employment has been met.

If your loved one has fewer than 40 quarters of employment or if they're disabled, they might be paying a premium to voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part A.

For those required to pay the full premium amount, the rate will increase to $437 a month beginning January 1st, 2019; this is $15 more than last year's rate.

Medicare Part A Deductible Increase - 2019

The Part A inpatient hospital deductible covers beneficiaries share of cost for the first 60 days.

If you're caring for someone that has Traditional Medicare as their only coverage and they’re admitted to the hospital the deductible rate has increased by $14 since 2018.

As of 2019 Part A deductibles will cost $1,354, this amount can need paid several times a year depending on hospital admittance.

Should they remain in the hospital exceeding 60 days, a coinsurance amount of $341 per day for the 61st - 90th day of hospitalization is required; this is a $6 increase from last year.

Lifetime reserve days went up $12 since 2018 making the total amount $682 per day.

Medicare Part B Premium Increase - 2019

Medicare Part B covers costs of doctor services, outpatient services, specific home healthcare services, DME supplies as well as other medical and health services that Part A doesn't cover.

In 2019 beneficiaries are to expect a slight increase in standard monthly Part B premium amounts; increased by $1.50 monthly value will now be $135.50.

Because Medicare Part B premium costs are income based, new income brackets will be added in 2019.

If you're caring for someone who's income is $500,000+ ($750,000+ for married couples) then their monthly Part B premium will now cost $460.50.

Medicare Part B Deductible Increase - 2019

Like many other Medicare benefits, slight increases were made to the Part B deductible.

The Medicare Part B deductible increase:

  • $183 in 2018
  • To $185 in 2019

Medicare Supplement Plans that include the Part B deductible will only be offered to people who are eligible for Medicare prior to the year 2020.

Return of the Medicare Open Enrollment Period - 2019

You need to be aware enrollment periods to make changes to healthcare coverage.

For instance, if your loved one or client has Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage Plan, changes can only be made one time a year. In 2019, this policy will change.

Expect the return of Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP); this period will run from January 1st - March 31st.

Bringing back this enrollment period will give beneficiaries another option to change their Medicare Advantage Plan after the allowed date.

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) allows beneficiaries to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan and/or change plans for any reason.

As of January 2019, the Medicare Open Enrollment Period will replace the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period.

If your loved one is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, this is an additional enrollment period to make changes.

First Dollar Coverage Plans are Going Away in 2020

Caregivers must be aware of the plans that will be going away in the year 2020.

It's important to know if this change will affect the beneficiary you're caring for. Beneficiaries new to Medicare will need to plan accordingly, based on their Medicare effective date.

First-dollar coverage plans are Medicare Supplement Plans that have no out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Supplement plan C, F and High deductible F are all considered first dollar plans.

If a person is considered Medicare eligible before January of 2020 this change won't affect them. First-dollar coverage plans will not be available to individuals who are eligible for Medicare after 2020.

So, if your loved one will be 65 years old before January 1st, 2020, they’ll be able to continue to enroll in these first-dollar coverage plans.

If they’re already enrolled in a first-dollar coverage plan, they’ll automatically be grandfathered in once the changes are made.

Most Importantly

There’s no need to make any changes to your beneficiary’s coverage unless they want another policy or feel another policy offers them more value.

If they’re eligible, enrollment in first-dollar coverage is still allowed.

There are many things to consider when thinking about another person's healthcare needs.

Keeping yourself updated on any changes to your loved one’s health insurance policy is one of the most important factors to effectively caring for another person.

As a caregiver, you might be confused on what your loved-one's healthcare plan is or includes; if this is the case, contact your local Medicare agent and speak with them to clear up any confusion you might have.

Lindsay Engle is the Healthcare Expert at MedicareFAQLindsay Engle is the Healthcare Expert at MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for Medicare beneficiaries. Lindsay loves working in the Medicare industry. Aside from her job, she has a great passion for animals and loves boating. In her spare time, she enjoys snuggling on the couch with her pets as well as fishing with her boyfriend.

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