As soon as you finally start understanding all the ins and outs of Medicare, they go and change it on you. Medicare is modified each and every year. There have been quite a few beneficial changes made in regard to Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare Advantage plans have new benefits as well as a new enrollment period. There are also a few new updates that have been made to Original Medicare in 2019, too. Below are a few updates to Medicare you should be aware of.
Medicare Advantage Updates
With the influx of Medicare Advantage plans in 2019 came a few new benefits. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated the type of non-Medicare-covered benefits that Medicare Advantage plans are allowed to offer.
Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, can offer a few benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. Some examples of these benefits are drug, dental, hearing, vision, and foreign travel emergencies. Now Medicare Advantage plans are also allowed to offer telemedicine and home health care benefits.
Home health care includes some help with activities of daily living, also called custodial care. Custodial care consists of a trained professional helping you with things like getting dressed, eating, and going to the restroom. Having access to benefits like these is really important if you want to live safely at home by yourself in retirement.
Telemedicine is another benefit Medicare beneficiaries have been taking advantage of in 2019. This benefit allows those who live in rural areas with very limited access to doctors to have video conference calls with other specialists out of their reach. There are a few rules to follow when accessing this benefit. However, we expect to see this benefit evolve over the next few years.
Medicare Advantage New Enrollment Period
This is actually an update that was brought back. As of 2019, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP) was put back into place. This period begins on January 1st and ends on March 31st.
During this new enrollment window, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have a chance to change or drop their Medicare Advantage plan. This period has nothing to do with Medigap or Medicare Part D.
Original Medicare Updates in 2019
Before 2019, there were limits on Medicare-covered therapy services that Medicare would spend. There was a limit for physical, speech, and occupational therapy. This limit affected how often and how long a Medicare beneficiary could receive therapy.
However, as of 2019, that cap has been eliminated. Now Medicare beneficiaries can receive as much medically necessary therapy as they need each year without having to worry about Medicare not covering it. As long as it’s medically necessary, Medicare will cover it.
Updates to Medicare can be decided one year and implemented the next. However, some updates take time to be approved, and it can be years before a proposed update takes effect. One update that was approved a couple of years ago has to do with Medigap plans.
Currently, there are 10 standardized Medigap plans available. They are named Plan A, B, C, F, G, K, L, M, and N. New legislation has been passed called the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) that basically states that the Part B deductible is the beneficiary’s responsibility now, not the carrier’s.
Therefore, Medigap Plan F, Plan C, and High-Deductible Plan F (HDF) will no longer be allowed to be offered to new Medicare enrollees as of 2020. On the bright side, beneficiaries who already have one of these Medigap plans will be grandfathered in and allowed to keep their plan.
Also, if you have Medicare Part A effective prior to 2020, you will still be allowed to apply for any of these plans in 2020 and beyond. However, you will most likely have to answer health questions and can be turned down for pre-existing conditions.
There are sure to be many more updates made to Medicare in the upcoming years. With the presidential election just around the corner, many politicians are trying to stick their hands in the Medicare pot and stir it around. Be on the lookout for even bigger changes on the horizon.