Medicare provides vital health insurance coverage for Americans 65 and over. But the program frequently changes from year to year – from premium costs to coverage rules. It’s crucial for retirees to stay up to date on upcoming Medicare changes, so they can make informed choices about their 2024 coverage during open enrollment in late 2023.
This blog covers major Medicare changes coming in 2024 and provides resources to help you navigate decisions to get the best coverage at the lowest cost. Thoroughly evaluating your options annually allows you to find savings and avoid surprises.
Higher Medicare Part B Premiums
Medicare Part B covers outpatient services like doctor visits and durable medical equipment. The standard monthly Part B premium is projected to rise to approximately $167 in 2024, a $10 increase from 2023. Part B premiums are deducted from your Social Security check.
Higher-income retirees pay more for Part B under income-adjusted bracket premiums also increasing in 2024. Married couples with over $182,000 in income and individuals over $91,000 pay the highest rates.
Part A Premiums and Cost Sharing
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays. While most retirees don’t pay a premium for Part A because they earned 40+ work credits, those who do will see premiums rise to approximately $506 per month in 2024.
Part A deductibles for hospital admissions will also increase to around $1,600 in 2024 from $1,556 in 2023. Skilled nursing facility coinsurance for days 21-100 will rise to about $200 per day.
Lower Part D Premiums Expected
Medicare Part D prescription drug plan premiums are projected to decline by approximately 5% on average in 2024 based on current data, lowering costs to around $32 per month across many plans. It pays to shop around.
The actual Part D premium you pay still depends on your specific coverage and provider. But overall costs look to be dropping after two years of increases.
Higher Part B and Part D Income Brackets
Retirees with higher incomes above $97,000 single or $194,000 married filing jointly pay extra for Part B and Part D premiums. These income brackets tend to rise each year. Be aware if your income increases.
Higher earners may voluntarily contribute to an IRA pre-tax to lower their income below the brackets and save on Medicare premiums. Work with a tax advisor on strategies.
Part B Deductible Rising
Before Part B covers services, you must meet the annual deductible which will climb to approximately $230 in 2024 from $226 in 2023. Routine physicals and certain preventive services are covered first dollar with no deductible.
If you have supplemental Medigap or retiree health insurance, they may cover all or part of the Part B deductible. Review policy details.
Medicare will continue expanding access to telehealth services in 2024, allowing more virtual care options like phone or video visits with doctors. This provides convenience and reduces healthcare costs.
More providers are offering telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries. But confirm a practitioner offers virtual visits before making appointments to use this perk fully.
Medicare Advantage Changes
Medicare Advantage plans typically announce new details like providers, drug formularies, and premiums for 2024 in October 2023 before open enrollment. Expect more plan options and competitive pricing.
Medicare Advantage provides all Original Medicare benefits and often extra coverage like vision, dental, hearing, and gym memberships. Compare costs and coverage carefully when selecting plans.
Open Enrollment Period
Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. You can switch to Medicare Advantage Plans or Part D prescription plans for the following year. This is the time to review your full 2024 coverage.
Research plans on Medicare.gov and consult with benefit advisors to find savings. Make any changes by December 7 or you’re locked into your current coverage for all of 2024.
Navigating Medicare changes annually allows retirees to secure optimal coverage and cost savings. In 2024, higher premiums for most plans plus increased deductibles and coinsurance are coming. But prescription drug premiums look to decrease. Take time to understand changes and make informed Medicare decisions during open enrollment for your ideal 2024 coverage.
FAQs About Medicare Changes
When do most major Medicare changes go into effect each year?
Annual Medicare changes primarily go into effect on January 1 when the new plan year starts. This is why reviewing options during open enrollment for the next year is important.
How do retirees evaluate 2024 Medicare plan options during open enrollment?
Use the Medicare.gov Plan Finder to compare 2024 premiums, deductibles, provider networks, drug formularies, and total estimated costs across plans available in your area.
What resources are available to understand Medicare changes each year?
The Medicare & You handbook, Medicare.gov, Social Security statements, Medicare advisors, and the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) provide information.
Can retirees make changes to their Medicare coverage outside of open enrollment?
Yes, in limited cases like moving to a new service area or losing other coverage, you can request special enrollment periods or make changes mid-year.
Where can someone get free personalized Medicare plan help?
State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) offer local Medicare counseling and assistance for retirees at no cost. Find your state SHIP office via shiptacenter.org.