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Medicare premiums, deductibles, increase slightly while MA rates have decreased

CMS promotes MA's supplemental benefits as consumers increasingly choose private coverage versus government insurance.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Medicare Part A inpatient deductibles are increasing by $24, from $1,340 in 2018 to $1,364 in 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed on Friday.

Most Medicare beneficiaries, about 99 percent, do not pay a Part A premium.

Part B outpatient premiums are increasing from $134 in 2018 to $135.50 in 2019. Certain beneficiaries will pay less than that because their premium hikes are limited to being no greater than their increases in Social Security benefits.

Part B deductibles are also increasing slightly, from $183 to $185.

CMS released Part C, or private Medicare Advantage premiums and deductibles last month. On average, MA premiums for 2019 are estimated to decrease by 6 percent to $28, from $29.81 in 2018.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Medicare open enrollment begins Monday, October 15 and ends on December 7. Beneficiaries can switch between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. CMS has been promoting the benefits of the private, rather than government, insurance for those 65 and older.

CMS launched an eMedicare Initiative that provides information on costs, including prescription drug costs, for beneficiaries to get information and to choose a plan and compare options between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

THE TREND

As CMS has been touting the benefits of Medicare Advantage plans, and more insurers offer them, seniors are increasingly choosing the option. The current third of all Medicare enrollees in an MA plan is expected to increase to 36 percent.

Medicare Advantage enrollees have access to supplemental benefits not available to regular Medicare beneficiaries, CMS has said. Many already get dental, vision and hearing services, over-the-counter items, meals, nursing hotlines and transportation to medical services, the agency said. Some plans are adding adult day care services, in-home support services, caregiver support services, home-based palliative care and therapeutic massage.

ON THE RECORD

"CMS is committed to empowering beneficiaries with the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. "In addition to the information we recently released for Medicare Advantage, the program through which private plans provide Medicare benefits, today we are releasing information for fee-for-service Medicare, so enrollees understand their options for receiving Medicare benefits."

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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