Do you ever wish Medicare was more like “Readycare”?
As in, standing ready and there when you need it?
Simple. Straightforward. No strings attached.
You’re not alone. Terms like ‘premiums’ or ‘eligibility’ sound ultra-exclusive and often intimidating. The one constant you can bet on—personal wellness and health coverage delivered as a packaged deal.
Do new mandates hold promise?
What’s next for healthcare in the COVID era?
Our simple, no-nonsense Guide to Medicare Changes can help. Here’s what’s in the forecast for the 2022 annual enrollment period.
Medicare Changes are “Part” and Parcel to Your Security
FIRST, A QUICK MEDICARE OVERVIEW
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 or older and certain younger people with disabilities. The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:
Medicare Part A helps cover inpatient hospital stays, supervised care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and home health care.
Medicare Part B helps cover provider services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive measures, such as health screenings.
Medicare Part D helps cover the cost of prescription drugs including recommended shots or vaccines.
Medicare Advantage plans offer a selection of additional benefits, such as hearing, dental, and vision care, as well as gym memberships and travel coverage. (Most plans also include Part D prescription drug coverage.)
It’s no surprise—the Medicare landscape is constantly shifting. Every year, coverage, premiums, deductibles, and copayments are subject to change.
And 2022 is no exception.
Medicare Changes… How will You be Affected?
MOST PREMIUMS INCREASED IN 2022.
At the end of 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an increase in current Medicare premiums.
MEDICARE PART A PREMIUM.
Roughly 99% of Medicare beneficiaries don’t pay a Part A premium—they get it for free based on either their own work history or that of a spouse. But for that remaining 1%, premiums increased for 2022.
- For people with more than 30 (but fewer than 40) quarters of work history, the Part A premium is $274 per month, up from $252 in 2021.
- For people with fewer than 30 quarters of work history, the Part A premium is $499 per month, up from $471 in 2021.
MEDICARE PART B PREMIUM.
In 2022, Medicare Part B saw the single largest dollar increase in the program’s history. The standard monthly premium is now $170.10—nearly $22 more per month.
This spike is due to several known factors:
- Dotted line costs associated with COVID
- Anticipated spending related to Aduhelm™ (a new infusion medication for Alzheimer’s, which could soon be covered under Part B)
- Emerging legislation, such as 2020’s short-term spending bill, which unilaterally lowered last year’s premiums
However, this year’s 5.9% Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is also among the largest ever. It’s a boon for Medicare Part B beneficiaries and should offset costs for those enrolled in the program.
NOTE: Due to the “Hold Harmless” provision, a Social Security recipient’s premium is capped by the amount of the COLA. That’s because Part B premiums are withheld from Social Security checks. And net checks can’t decline from one year to the next.
2022 MEDICARE PART D PREMIUM.
Based on current enrollment data, the CMS projects the average 2022 premium for Part D prescription drug coverage plans will climb to approximately $33.27 per month. That’s an uptick of 4.9% over the previous year.
NOTE: The agency was expected to release the finalized premium amount and cost-sharing information for both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans in late September.
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLAN (PART C) PREMIUMS FELL.
Advantage premiums have been on the decline for the last several years. According to the CMS, Medicare Advantage premiums for 2022 average $19 per month, which is down from $21 in 2021, and $23 in 2020. (These Medicare Advantage premiums are in addition to Part B premiums.)
Also, enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has grown steadily. Almost 27 million people were enrolled in 2021, and the CMS expects that number to swell to over 29 million in 2022.
DEDUCTIBLES ARE ALSO TRENDING UPWARD.
Similar to premiums, annual deductibles for Medicare Parts A, B, and D have also risen. Actual deductibles vary by plan, but these averages highlight a perpetual upswing:
Part A deductible: $1,556 (up from $1,484 in 2021)
Part B deductible: $233 (up from $203 in 2021)
Part D deductible: $480 (up from $445 in 2021)
A Bright Spot Amid Medicare Changes
Although benefits and coverage will remain largely static, there are some silver linings.
DRUG COVERAGE UPDATES.
One of the biggest changes for 2022 is an option to sign up for a Part D enhanced plan that locks the price of certain insulins at $35 a month.
NOTE: This program began last year, but options have been expanded for 2022.
Plus, this year will see Medicare Part D cover Aduhelm™—a monoclonal antibody drug that treats mild Alzheimer’s disease.
NOTE: Medicare will only cover the drug for beneficiaries enrolled in a clinical trial approved by the CMS or supported by the National Institutes of Health.
MEDICARE TELEHEALTH COVERAGE IS EXPANDING.
As the pandemic dragged on, Medicare beneficiaries turned to virtual care. As a result, the CMS has permanently extended coverage for telehealth services—including requisite treatment of mental health and substance abuse.
WE’RE HERE TO KEEP YOU INFORMED.
Medicare can feel like a mountain—a steep incline or easy ascension. Finding your footing may be tricky, but never impossible. We’ll lead the way.
At Health & Benefits Partners, our goal is to help you make the best healthcare decisions for you and your family. Our team has the knowledge and experience you need to find the right coverage for you.
If you have questions regarding 2022’s Medicare changes, reach out.
We’re always… standing ready.