6 New Things for Medicare in 2018 That Seniors Need to Be Aware Of

For seniors on Medicare, there are some significant changes coming in 2018. Whether you've been on Medicare for a long time or are just becoming eligible to sign up, there are six important changes that you need to be aware of. Even if you are currently covered under Medicare, experts strongly suggest you review your plan during open enrollment, which closes on December 7th. When considering how the changes to Medicare may affect you, keep reading to learn more about the six new things for Medicare in 2018 that seniors need to be aware of.

What happens to Part D premiums?

In 2018, the presrciption drug (Part D) premiums will be slightly lower, to an average of $33.50 per month compared to the average of $34.70 per month in 2017. This will be the first Part D premium dip since 2012. Keep in mind that your actual premium may vary depending on where you live and the plan you select. 

Will there be an increase in the number of Medicare Advantage plans available?

Yes, seniors will have more choices for Medicare Advantage plans. An expected 99 percent of Medicare recipients will have access to MA plans, and most of those individuals will have 10 or more MA plans to choose from in 2018.

What will happen to Medicare Advantage premiums?

Medicare Advantage (MA) premiums will be slightly lower next year, costing about $30, which is just under $2 less than before. Keep in mind that premiums vary based on what your plan covers and where you live, so your premium may be slightly higher or lower than $30. 

What changes are coming to the Part D coverage gap?

The Part D coverage gap will be smaller in 2018. Seniors who reach the prescription cost threshold (set by the government each year), prescriptions cost more out of pocket. In 2018, however, once you've spent $3,750 in prescription drug costs, you'll be responsible for 35 percent of the cost of brand name medications and 44 percent for generic medications. Once you reach $5,000, however, you'll pay no more than 5 percent of your prescription medication costs for the remainder of the year. 

What is the high-income surcharge?

The high-income surcharge affects seniors above a certain income level, with higher Part B and Part D premiums. In 2018, the income threshold has changed, which means more seniors will fall in the high-income surcharge category. Individuals earing $133,500 per year or couples earning $267,000 per year will see an increase in premiums. 

What changes will happen to the Part B premium?

People on Medicare who are not yet receiving Social Security benefits will see no change in their Part B premiums, which will remain at $134. However, seniors who are receiving Social Security benefits (which automatically pays Part B premiums) will pay around $109 per month throughout 2017. These premiums may change in 2018, however. 

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