“The Part D (prescription drug) coverage may be going down in some plans in 2018, but you should be careful, read your entire plan and ask questions, until you are comfortable that you understand it.”
Medicare premiums and coverage details can change every year. Medical expenses and insurance premiums can make up a significant portion of your monthly costs. If you have Medicare coverage and you want to know how to plan your budget, you may be asking, What changes can you expect to Medicare in 2018?
New Medicare Cards
Your old-school Medicare card had your Social Security number printed on it, which was great – for identity thieves. You will now get a new Medicare card that does not have your Social Security number on it. Instead, you will have a Medicare number that is unique to you. It is similar to an account number. Medicare will mail out the new cards between April 2018 and April 2019. If you have moved, you must update your mailing address with Medicare at ssa.gov/my account or by calling 1-800-772-1213. The TTY line is 1-800-325-0778.
More Out of Pocket Costs
If you have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, you previously might have had a limit on out-of-pocket expenses you had to pay for Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (outpatient coverage). Many of the MA plans that offer $4,000 or less a year as the out-of-pocket maximum will no longer exist in 2018. There will still be quite a few MA plans with $0 monthly premiums, and you can still include dental, vision, and hearing coverage into your MA plan. Original Medicare has no cap on out-of-pocket expenses and does not allow you to roll the additional coverage options into your plan.
Higher Part B Surcharges
From 2015 to 2020, federal legislation is phasing in higher reimbursements to doctors who take Medicare patients. The money to pay the physicians more comes from the Medicare patients. Medicare calls this a “Part B surcharge.” The amount you pay is based on your income. The monthly surcharges range from $134 to $428.60. While these amounts have not increased, they played around with the income brackets so people who used to be in one income bracket, will now be in a different bracket and pay a higher surcharge.
In 2017, the brackets were:
- Less than $85,001 single/$170,001 married: paid $134/month surcharge
- $85,001 to $107,000 single/ $170,001 to $214,000 married: paid $187.50/month surcharge
- $107,001 to $160,000 single/ $214,001 to $320,000 married: paid $267.90/month surcharge
- $160,001 to $214,000 single/ $320,001 to $428,000 married: paid $348.30/month surcharge
- More than $214,000 single/ $428,000 married: paid $428.60/month surcharge
The income brackets for 2018 will be:
- Less than $85,001 single/$170,001 married: NO CHANGE
- $85,001 to $107,000 single/$170,001 to $214,000 married: NO CHANGE
- The previous $107,001 to $160,000 single/$214,001 to $320,000 married bracket is now divided into two new brackets that will pay either $267.90 or $348.30 in monthly surcharge
- Everyone making over $160,000 single/$320,000 married will pay the maximum surcharge of $428.60 a month
Some Premiums Changing
The Part D (prescription drug) coverage may be going down in some plans in 2018, but be careful, read your entire plan and ask questions until you are comfortable that you understand it. Some people will be happy to see that their Part B (outpatient services) premiums will not increase in 2018. Other Medicare participants will see their 2018 Part B premiums increasing by 2 percent.
Laws can vary from state to state, and this posting discusses the general law. Talk with an elder law attorney in your area.
MedicareResources.org. “How are Medicare benefits changing in 2018?” (accessed November 6, 2017) https://www.medicareresources.org/faqs/what-kind-of-medicare-benefit-changes-can-i-expect-this-year/
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Medicare & You 2018.” (accessed November 6, 2017) https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf
The Motley Fool. “3 Changes to Medicare in 2018 That You Need to Know.” (accessed November 6, 2017) https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/10/08/3-changes-to-medicare-in-2018-that-you-need-to-kno.aspx