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Important Answers to Frequently Asked Medicare Questions

When you read through answers to some of today’s most commonly asked questions about Medicare, it’s important to check for updates on a regular basis. Due to frequent changes in Medicare health coverage, an answer that applied three months ago may no longer be applicable. Below you will find helpful answers that are applicable as of July, 2018. In addition to these answers are details regarding how some of the latest changes are impacting Medicare recipients.

As you’re reading about Medicare changes for 2018, it’s important to understand that not all of them will apply to you. This is why you should speak with a Medicare insurance specialist to determine which ones impact you as a Medicare recipient.

What Changes Have Occurred to Medicare Part A?

As far as Medicare Part A, the deductibles have increased on a per benefit period basis at a rate of $1,340. This is $24 more than it was per benefit period in 2017. Hospital coinsurance has also seen a change — $6/day increase for hospitalization for days 61-90. During the first 60 days of your stay, you are covered for shared costs. If you are in a skilled nursing facility, there is a daily coinsurance increase for days 21 through 100, with the increase being $3/day. And there is also an increase in lifetime reserve days, which went from $658 to $670 a day.

Is MACRA Causing Premium Increases to Those Who Pay the IRMAA?

Due to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, commonly referred to as MACRA, those with a high income who pay the Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), may endure a premium increase. This only applies, however, if you fall into a higher tier (IRMAA works using a tiered income pattern). The tiered income pattern is based on five tiers, and 2018 Medicare changes saw changes in three of these tiers. If you fall into one of these tiers and have an increase in your income, there’s a good chance you will notice an increase in your premiums.

Has the Deductible for Medicare Part D Increased?

The deductible for Medicare Part D has increased, but only slightly by $5. There is also an increase of $50 in recipients’ initial coverage limit under Medicare Part D. On the downside, there is a $50 increase in the out-of-pocket threshold. As far as the maximum copay for prescriptions covered under Medicare Part D, for generic drugs, the maximum is $3.35 and the maximum for other drugs is $8.35.

Is There a Trick to Choosing Medicare Supplement Options?

The latest changes to Medicare have not impacted how to choose a Medicare supplement option. Ideally, you will want to look at the existing coverage you have through your employer or your spouse’s plan and then choose what you would like to change as well as what you would like to stay the same. It’s also important to choose a supplement option based on your budget. Furthermore, if you want to choose your own doctors and health care providers, you will want to consider this when shopping for a supplement option.

Is Medicare Part A Really Free?

Medicare basic Part A is free for those who have paid Medicare taxes for a minimum of 40 quarters throughout their lifetime. If you have not paid these taxes but your spouse has, then Medicare basic Part A is still free for you. However, even if it’s free, you are responsible for an annual deductible amount of $1,340 as of 2018. In addition, you have to pay a portion of the expenses that are incurred for hospital stays lasting more than 60 days; this also applies to nursing home stays that are longer than 100 days.