Medicare users in San Luis Obispo County are facing a number of changes in 2018, the most significant of which are in the areas of:

  1. New Medicare cards
  2. Premiums
  3. Deductibles
  4. Coinsurance payments
  5. Income brackets

In this article, we’ve tried to summarize these changes to help Medicare recipients understand them and see how they might be affected.

New Medicare Cards

The Medicare administration is mailing new Medicare cards starting in April, which will be automatically mailed to the address on record. (Contact Social Security to update mailing addresses for the new card covering Medicare plans in San Luis Obispo County and elsewhere.)

Here’s what you need to know about the new Medicare card:

  • To protect identities, the new card uses the Medicare number instead of the social security number.
  • Cards are not mailed at the same time so neighbors and friends will get them at different times.
  • Doctors and other healthcare providers are now able to look up Medicare numbers online, but carry your new card with you to make it easier to provide the Medicare number.
  • The Medicare card is not an identification card, so only show it to doctors, pharmacists, health care providers, insurers, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf.

Additional instructions will arrive with the card.

Changes to Medicare Premiums

Participants who have been getting Part A hospital coverage as part of their Social Security Benefits without charge will continue to do so. Those who have been paying for Part A may see an increase between $5 to $9.

The Medicare Part B premium increases to $134 for most recipients. However, most recipients are protected by the hold-harmless provision so this increase will not reduce monthly social security payments.

Changes to Medicare Deductibles

The Part A hospital annual deductible increases by $24 to $1340. (Part B remains the same at $183 annually.)

Coinsurance Payments

Changes have been made with respect to coinsurance payments for skilled-nursing and hospital stays. Part A generally covers hospital stays after meeting the annual deductible and for stays up to 60 days.

The following charges have increased for 2018:

  • $0 up to 60 days (no change)
  • $335 per day between 61 and 90 days (a $6 increase from 2017)
  • For stays of 91 days and more, participants can use up to 60 lifetime reserve days, but will need to pay $670 per day (a $12 increase from 2017)

There is no coinsurance charge for up to 20 days in a skilled nursing facility, while the charge is $167.50 per day for stays between 21-100 days.

No coverage is available after day 100, forcing participants to cover costs or get payments from a supplemental Medicare policy. However, Susan Polk Insurance can help you find the right plan to offset these gaps in Medicare coverage, so contact us for more details.

Income Brackets

The Medicare Part B surcharges for those who make above certain incomes are remaining the same for 2018, but the income brackets have changed. The surcharge is an amount that is paid in addition to the base $134 per month that everyone pays, which increases Part B premiums for those with higher incomes. Charges range from $187.50 for those with annual incomes between $85,000 and $107,000, to a high of $428.60 for incomes over $160,000.

Most of the income brackets were lowered in 2018. For example, the highest bracket for 2017 was for annual income over $241,000. This highest-earning amount was reduced to $160,000 for 2018.

Learning More About 2018 Medicare Changes

While can always learn more about Medicare and all these changes at the Medicare website, you can also just contact us. We’ve been specializing in Medicare insurance in San Luis Obispo since 1988, and we’re always available to help take the mystery out of Medicare.

For questions about these important changes and how they might impact you, contact us today and schedule a FREE consultation.

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For 40 years, we’ve been helping San Luis Obispo make the best insurance decisions. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.