In each of the last few years, Medicare has made minor changes. In 2017, we can expect some major ones.
MEDICARE 2017: WHAT’S OLD, WHAT’S NEW
Premiums & Deductables
30% of Medicare recipients will pay higher premiums and deductibles. This group includes people who do not yet receive Social Security, those new to Medicare, low-income Medicare enrollees who also receive Medicaid, and people who pay high income premiums for Medicare. For these enrollees, Part B premiums and annual deductibles will go up about 10%. Part B primarily covers expenses for doctors, other outpatient care, and durable medical equipment. Part A premiums and deductibles, which cover care in hospitals, nursing homes, and some in-home care, will also show modest increases.
The other 70% of Medicare enrollees. Monthly Part B premiums are $104.90 a month, and will go up 4% to about $109. These premiums are deducted from enrollee monthly Social Security payments. Because 2017’s Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is very small, this group of Medicare enrollees will see that entire increase applied to the higher Part B premiums.
Part A of Medicare charges no premiums to anyone who has worked long enough to qualify for Social Security. However, it does have an annual deductible and daily coinsurance charges. Premiums and deductibles for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans have already been set and will not be affected by any Part A or Part D changes.
Obamacare's Impact on Medicare
ObamaCare expands existing coverage for seniors, including: no-charge preventive care and wellness visits, better access to cancer screenings, personalized prevention plans, vaccines, flu shots, and more. Most important, ObamaCare is gradually closing the “donut hole” (the yearly Part D drug coverage reimbursement limit) that has caused some older people not to be able to afford some of their prescriptions. Unchanged, ObamaCare will completely close the “donut hole” by 2020.
Both the Republican Congress and President-elect Trump have promised to repeal ObamaCare. Congress, however, has also promised not to disrupt health insurance coverage for the 20 million people that it currently covers. Changes are expected to be incremental, allowing a transition period of from two to four years. This Congress has also indicated interest in changing Medicare drastically, perhaps by turning it into a form of private insurance. Many lawmakers have talked about changing Medicare along with any ObamaCare reform. AARP will be keeping a close eye on these potential plans, as should all of us.