2016 will likely usher in some expected—and unexpected—trends in healthcare practices and changes to Medicare. Here are three to watch out for in 2016.

Healthcare and Mobile Apps

With technology being an integral part of our everyday lives, it is no wonder that healthcare providers are looking for ways to make healthcare accessible – on the go. According to Pew Research, in 2015, over 30% of adults used at least one health-related app on their mobile device. This trend is expected to increase and the healthcare industry is looking for new ways to engage health consumers. 2016 could be the year of handheld medical technology that all consumers have access to through their smartphones.

Changes to Medicare Part B Will Impact Premiums

This is a big change and could affect upwards of 30% of Medicare Part B participants. Those who do not pay their Part B premium directly out of their Social Security check and instead pay for Medicare directly themselves are in for an increase! The Medicare Trustees Report released in 2015 projected the expected premium increase to be in excess of 50%; however, a last-minute budget deal limited the increase.

Income categories for those paying the income-related monthly adjusted amount (IRMAA) have not changed since 2010. The threshold of $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples will remain until 2019. This will increase the numbers paying this penalty from 5.1% in 2012, to about 9.7% in 2019. Previously, the maximum anyone would pay was 65% of the actual cost of Part B expenses. Today, the percentage is 80% for the highest income earners.

Increased Rates in California

Several companies have recently announced rate increase for California Medicare Supplements. For those enrolled in Plan F in San Luis Obispo County, they can expect rate increases of about 8% in 2016.

However, there are several strategies for improving one’s financial position, including:

  1. Taking advantage of the California Birthday Rule.
    Within 30 days of your birthday, you have an Open Enrollment to move to a like or lesser plan regardless of your health.
  2. Considering a downgrade to a lower benefit plan.
    While Plan Fs are expected to increase an average of 8%, Plan Gs are showing greater stability with no increase expected for most companies.
  3. For some Medicare beneficiaries, a Medicare Advantage Plan may provide the coverage they need.
    We recommend Medicare Advantage plans for those who meet certain criteria, including (a) limited income, (b) older folks who would not want to travel outside the area for specialty care, (c) in hospice or long-term care facility.

Questions About Medicare?

Medicare can be a mystery, but Susan Polk Insurance is here to help. We’ve been providing San Luis Obispo with expert Medicare service since 1988. To find out more about Medicare, contact us today and schedule a FREE consultation.

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