This week we have a new report from our Medicare expert regarding the changes which have been made to Medicare in 2019, and the expected changes in 2020 or later. The expert who wrote this post is Danielle Kunkle Roberts, a recognized Medicare insurance expert and Forbes Finance Council member. Some of you may have already read some of her other helpful guest posts which she has written for this blog over the past few years. You will find contact information for Danielle Roberts in the sidebar of this blog, as well as at the bottom of the post. She and the staff of her company are always willing to answer the questions of our readers, as well as help you find a Medicare Supplement or Advantage Plan to meet your healthcare needs and which is available in your state.
Updates to Medicare This Year and Ones to Look Out for Next Year
by Danielle Kunkle Roberts
Lately, Medicare has been announcing update after update. Some of these updates have been in the works for multiple years and are just now being pushed through. Updates to Medicare include things such as plans being discontinued, new benefits, and more.
Exciting updates have been made to Medicare already in 2019, and we expect to see these updates progress in 2020. There are several updates which have been passed, but will not take effect until the start of 2020. Also, with the presidential election in 2020, we are bound to see more updates to Medicare within the next few years.
2019 Updates to Medicare
Medicare made a few changes to Medicare Advantage plans in 2019. Between 2018 and 2019, there were about 400 new Medicare Advantage plans added to the mix. In addition to new plans, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added new benefits to the list of benefits which Medicare Advantage plans are allowed to offer.
For years, Medicare Advantage plans have been able to offer benefits which Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not offer. Benefits such as drug, dental, vision, and hearing can be found in many Medicare Advantage plans. Now, in 2019, Medicare Advantage plans are allowed to also offer home health care and telehealth benefits.
Original Medicare does not cover home health care for those who only need help with activities of daily living (ADL). Therefore, Medicare beneficiaries who have wanted to stay at home in retirement but were unable to care for themselves have had to pay out-of-pocket for custodial care at home.
However, now that Medicare Advantage plans offer some home health care services, these beneficiaries can enroll in a plan with these benefits during the Annual Election Period so they can continue to live at home. Home health care benefits which may be covered are adult daycare services, custodial care, transportation, home modifications, palliative care at home, and meal delivery.
Telehealth is a new benefit offered by some Medicare Advantage plans which allows their enrollees who live in rural areas to have better access to specialists who are not close enough for the patient to see in person. Now beneficiaries who have this benefit can have a video call visit with a specialist from their primary care doctor’s office.
Medicare Advantage Try Before You Buy
Another update involving Medicare Advantage plans is the new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP). This period is from January 1st until March 31st. During this period, MA enrollees have the chance to change or drop their MA plan.
This is a great update, because beneficiaries who choose the wrong MA plan during the Annual Election Period (AEP) can have a second chance to choose a better plan for their situation.
2020 Updates to Medicare
For the past couple of years, we have known about an update which would not be effective until January 1, 2020. This update is the Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) Plan C, Plan F, and High-Deductible.
Legislation has been passed which restricts Medigap plans from paying the Part B deductible for their enrollees. All three of the above plans currently cover the Part B deductible. Therefore, these plans will no longer be available to new Medicare beneficiaries as of 2020.
However, if you have one of these plans prior to 2020, you will be able to keep it for many years to come. Also, if you already have Part A prior to 2020, you will still be able to apply for any of these plans with a carrier who offers them. You will likely have to answer health questions before being approved for one of these plan.
Possible Updates to Medicare in 2020
Since the presidential election will be held in 2020, we should all be on the lookout for important updates to Medicare. Each person running for President in 2020 is proposing changes to Medicare.
There are proposals such as Medicare for All, Medicare at 50, and Medicare budget cuts. All of these would influence our current Medicare program in a big way. However, nothing is for certain as of right now.
Remember, Medicare always changes to some extent, each and every year. So, changes like ones mentioned in this article are not out of the ordinary.
About Danielle Robert's company, Boomer Benefits:
"Founded in 2005 in Fort Worth, TX, Boomer Benefits is an award-winning insurance agency for national insurance carriers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Mutual of Omaha and many other A-rated carriers. We are licensed in 47 states. Over the years, we’ve learned just about everything there is to know about Medicare, and we’ve become known as the baby boomers insurance agency. We pass that knowledge on to you – absolutely free. There is never a charge for our services. Boomer Benefits Consulting is free."
Readers can contact Danielle Roberts and her wonderful staff at Boomer Benefits at:
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Photo credit: Danielle Roberts