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Everything you need to know about the Medicare costs in 2019

The Social Security Administration of the country, earlier this October, announced an increase in the monthly benefits by 2.8% in 2019. Just two days later the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the renewed Medicare Part B premiums for 2019. Although the premiums are about to rise for the coming year, the good news is that there is only a marginal increase. Keep reading to know more about the revised Medicare costs for 2019.

2019 Medicare Part B monthly standard premium and deductible
For the year 2019, the Medicare Part B monthly premium is set at $135.50. The figure is slightly ascended by $1.50 a month over the standard premium of $134 in 2018. Additionally, the yearly Medicare Part B deductible will be $185. Similar to the premiums, the deductible has also been increased marginally, i.e., by $2. When the enrollees meet this deductible, on an average they are paying 20% of the total Medicare-approved sum for covered medical services.

Part B of the Medicare program reimburses for expenses like doctor’s fees, medical equipment, and outpatient care. On the other hand, Medicare Part A primarily covers costs involving hospital stays. Most seniors are not charged for Medicare Part A premiums; however, the plan does require the beneficiaries to pay an annual deductible. For Part A, the deductible will be rising from $1,340 to $1,364 in 2019.

2019 Medicare Part B costs for individuals with high income
It is critical to note that the standard Medicare premiums might not be applicable to beneficiaries who have a high annual income. Therefore, they might have to pay more to avail the services of the program.

Medicare uses beneficiary’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) records from tax returns that are two years old to calculate the premium rate. Therefore, for 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will consider the MAGI records from 2017. Read further to know the premium rates for different high-earning brackets.

2019 premium rate for Medicare Part B– $189.60

  • Individual tax filers– $85,001 to $107,000
  • Joint return filers– $170,001 to $214,000

2019 premium rate for Medicare Part B– $270.90

  • Individual tax filers– $107,001 to $133,500
  • Joint return filers– $214,001 to $267,000

2019 premium rate for Medicare Part B– $352.20

  • Individual tax filers– $133,501 to $160,000
  • Joint return filers– $267,001 to $320,000

2019 premium rate for Medicare Part B– $433.40

  • Individual tax filers– $160,001 to $499,999
  • Joint return filers– $320,001 to $749,999
  • Married couples filing separately– $85,001 to $414,999

2019 premium rate for Medicare Part B– $460.50

  • Individual tax filers– $500,000 and above
  • Joint return filers– $750,000 and above
  • Married couples filing separately– $415,000 and above

Lower premiums for some beneficiaries
Apart from premium modifications for high-earning seniors, some Medicare beneficiaries will pay a lower monthly premium. If the Medicare Part B premiums are directly deducted from the Social Security benefits, the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) must be substantial enough to also accommodate the change in the premium. However, the 2.8% increase in the COLA is not sufficient to cover the 2019 premium rise of $1.50; therefore, only a few beneficiaries will be eligible to pay lower premiums. This hold harmless provision by Medicare is expected to benefit approximately 2 million seniors in 2019, which make up for 3.5% of the total enrollees.

2019 Medicare Advantage (MA) costs
The CMS also declared a 6% decrease for Medicare Advantage premiums. The center has stated that the average Medicare Advantage premium will reduce from $29.91 to $28. Therefore, 83% of the total MA beneficiaries are likely to have the same or lower monthly premiums next year. Similarly, it is expected for around 46% of the total individuals enrolled in the current MA plans to have $0 premiums in 2019. Moreover, Medicare Advantage is rendering 600 new healthcare plans, indicating that in the following year, the seniors will have access to almost 3,700 plans, out of which 91% of the beneficiaries will be allowed to pick 10 or more options. The CMS projections also state that the MA enrollment in 2019 will rise considerably, i.e., from 20.2 million to 22.6 million.

In 2019, the Medicare Advantage plans will offer extra benefits in the health plan, including adult day care services, home-based palliative care, caregiver support services, in-home support services, and therapeutic massages. These plans intend to reduce cost-sharing and provide specialized coverage for enrollees suffering from chronic conditions.

Open enrollment dates for Medicare coverage in 2019
Like the previous year, the open enrollment date for 2019 Medicare coverage starts from November 1, 2018, and ends on December 15, 2018. Although, these dates may vary across states. Therefore, applicants should ensure to check the directives of their state’s health department. If one fails to enroll for Medicare within the stated time period, then they might not receive coverage for 2019, unless they are eligible for a special enrollment period. The healthcare plans that are sold during the open enrollment period will be effective from January 1, 2019, onwards.

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