What’s New to Medicare in 2019: A Comprehensive Guide

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Before diving into the specific updates for 2019, let’s briefly review what Medicare is and who it serves. Medicare is a federal health insurance program in the United States that primarily covers individuals who are 65 years of age or older, as well as certain younger individuals with disabilities and those with end-stage renal disease. The program is divided into several parts, each addressing different aspects of healthcare coverage.

Medicare Part A Updates

Medicare Part A, also known as hospital insurance, provides coverage for inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and some home healthcare services. In 2019, there have been several noteworthy updates to Medicare Part A that you should be aware of:

  • Inpatient hospital deductible: The deductible for each benefit period in 2019 is $1,364, an increase from the previous year.
  • Skilled nursing facility coinsurance: For days 21 through 100 of skilled nursing facility care, beneficiaries are responsible for a daily coinsurance amount of $170.50 in 2019, up from $167.50 in 2018.
  • Lifetime reserve days: Medicare beneficiaries have a total of 60 lifetime reserve days that can be used after exhausting their regular Medicare benefits. In 2019, the coinsurance amount for these reserve days is $682 per day, an increase from $670 in 2018.

Medicare Part B Updates

Medicare Part B covers outpatient medical services, including doctor visits, preventive care, and medical supplies. Here are the key updates to Medicare Part B in 2019:

  • Standard monthly premium: The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B in 2019 is $135.50, a slight increase from the previous year.
  • Annual deductible: The annual deductible for Medicare Part B is $185 in 2019, an increase of $2 from 2018.
  • Income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA): Higher-income beneficiaries may be subject to an additional monthly premium based on their modified adjusted gross income. The income thresholds and corresponding IRMAA amounts have been adjusted for inflation in 2019.

Medicare Part D Updates

Medicare Part D is the prescription drug coverage portion of Medicare. It helps beneficiaries pay for their prescription medications. Here are the important updates to Medicare Part D for 2019:

  • Standard initial coverage limit: The initial coverage limit for 2019 is $3,820, an increase from $3,750 in 2018. Once beneficiaries reach this limit, they enter the coverage gap, commonly known as the “donut hole.”
  • Catastrophic coverage threshold: After reaching the coverage gap, beneficiaries will qualify for catastrophic coverage when their out-of-pocket costs for covered drugs reach $5,100 in 2019, up from $5,000 in 2018.
  • Changes in drug formularies: Medicare Part D plans can change their drug formularies from year to year, which may impact the coverage and cost of specific medications. It’s important for beneficiaries to review their plan’s formulary to ensure their medications are covered.

Additional Updates and Resources

In addition to the updates mentioned above, there may be other changes and resources available to Medicare beneficiaries in 2019. It is crucial to stay informed and up-to-date on these developments. Here are some additional resources that can provide further information and assistance:

  • Medicare.gov (https://www.medicare.gov): The official U.S. government website for Medicare offers a wealth of information, including detailed guides, enrollment information, and plan comparisons.
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (https://www.cms.gov): The CMS website provides comprehensive information on Medicare, Medicaid, and other healthcare programs, including updates, regulations, and policy guidance.
  • Social Security Administration (https://www.ssa.gov): As Medicare eligibility is closely linked to Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration’s website offers valuable resources for understanding eligibility requirements and applying for benefits.

Conclusion

In conclusion, being aware of the latest updates to Medicare is crucial for beneficiaries, caregivers, and anyone seeking information about the program. This comprehensive guide has provided a detailed overview of the changes implemented in 2019 across Medicare Parts A, B, and D. Remember to consult official resources and organizations for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding your specific situation.

Summary:

  • Medicare Part A updates include changes to the inpatient hospital deductible, skilled nursing facility coinsurance, and lifetime reserve days.
  • Medicare Part B updates cover the standard monthly premium, annual deductible, and income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA).
  • Medicare Part D updates involve the standard initial coverage limit, catastrophic coverage threshold, and changes in drug formularies.
  • Additional resources such as Medicare.gov, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Social Security Administration offer further information and assistance.

Useful URLs:

  1. https://www.medicare.gov
  2. https://www.cms.gov
  3. https://www.ssa.gov

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