Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2015 Medicare Changes, Premiums and Deductibles

Have you been wondering about next year's Medicare changes and what you will be paying in basic premiums in 2015?  According to articles by Kiplinger and MarketWatch, here is the information you will want to know.

2015 Medicare Premiums and Deductibles

The good news is that almost everyone's Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted from the Social Security benefits of the majority of recipients, will remain unchanged at $104.90 a month.

For those who rely on basic Medicare alone, they will find that, in addition to no change in your basic Medicare premiums, your total deductibles will change very little, as well. For example, the Part B deductible will remain the unchanged at $147.

If you are admitted to a hospital under Medicare Part A, your deductible will increase $44 over the 2014 rates.  This means the deductible will rise to $1,260 in 2015 for the first 60 days you are in a hospital.

If you go into a skilled nursing facility, you will now pay $157.50 a day, but only for days 21 through 100.   For the first 20 days, you will continue to pay nothing.

On average, stand-alone Part D (drug) premiums are rising only by about $1 a month, to $32, according to Kiplingers.  However, this can vary quite a bit, depending on your Part D plan.  When the Kaiser Family Foundation did a nationwide analysis, they found that the average stand-alone Part D plan will actually rise to nearly $39, up from about $37.27.  My husband's Blue Shield Part D drug plan is $74.50 a month. You need to check with your provider to see what your actual premium will be.

Premiums for High Income Earners

If you have an adjusted gross income of $85,000 for an individual or $170,000 for a married couple filing jointly, you will have to pay an additional surcharge on your Medicare premiums.  Depending on your income, the surcharge can range from $42 to $230.  The highest rate is only for those single individuals who earn over $214,000 or married couples who earn over $428,000 ... which pertains only to a tiny percentage of retirees.  With the basic rate and the surcharge added together, the wealthiest people will pay $335.70 a month per person for their basic Medicare premiums.

Filling in the Gaps

Most people are not satisfied with the medical coverage provided under basic Medicare alone, since it can leave patients with large medical bills.  The majority of retirees usually either choose to use a Medicare Advantage plan or a Medigap Supplemental Insurance plan.  In every state, there are a variety of Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap Supplemental Insurance plans available.  There are many factors you need to consider in choosing a plan ... from which ones your favorite doctors will accept, to the drug coverage they provide and the premium you can afford.

Approximately 320,000 people who are in Medicare Advantage plans across the United States will have to change plans at the end of 2014.  A few companies have discontinued plans and others have launched new plans.  Nationwide there will be 1,945 Medicare Advantage plans available.  Even those people who do not have a plan that is being discontinued may want to do some comparison shopping before deciding whether or not they are better off staying with the plan they have.  The open enrollment period is from October 15 through December 7, 2014, so you can make changes starting today.

Many hospitals and senior centers will hold seminars during the next few weeks to help you choose the policy that is right for you.  Even if you already have a policy you like, it can still be worthwhile to attend the seminars to see if there is an even better program available or one at a more affordable price.  If you have not received any announcements in the mail, you may want to call your local hospital or insurance provider to see if there are any informational meetings being held in your area.

In addition, you can compare policies at this website:  eHealthMedicare.com.

The more information you have, the more likely you are to be satisfied with your Medicare plan.

Add-ons You May Wish to Include

Most policies offer you the option of also buying a dental and/or vision plan.  I highly recommend that retirees get these additional benefits, which can cost an extra $20 to $60 a month.

Source of 2015 Rate Change Information:

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T039-C001-S003-what-you-ll-pay-for-medicare-in-2015.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/some-retirees-face-big-medicare-changes-in-2015-2014-10-13

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