Medicare Monday Is Virtual Again
By Eileen Doherty, MS ~
Changes in prescription drug benefits, increases in deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance, changes for Medicare Advantage members, and new benefits will be the subject again of the Colorado Gerontological Society Annual Medicare Monday virtual events.
Open enrollment for Medicare Prescription Drugs and Medicare Advantage runs from October 15 to December 7, 2021. During open enrollment, you can change plans if you wish.
Individuals who have a Medicare Supplement have an initial enrollment period or a special enrollment period when they claim Medicare benefits, rather than an annual open enrollment period. Beneficiaries who have a Medicare Supplement do not need to make any changes to their Part A and B coverage.
Projections are that Medicare Part B premium will be increased significantly, maybe as much as 15% or more, unless Congress takes action. This year Medicare Part B is $148.50 per month for individuals earning less than $87,500 annually. Although some beneficiaries will feel they are unable to manage this substantial increase, dropping Part B is not a good option as most people are faced with physician visits, labs, x-rays and other minimal health and wellness care.
Similarly, Medicare Part D is also increasing. The average premium is expected to be about $33 or about a 4.9% increase. The annual deductible is increasing to $480. The total out-of-pocket expense will increase by $500 to $7,050 during the Initial Coverage Period and the Donut Hole. Co-pays for generic and brand-name drugs in the Donut Hole will vary. The maximum costs for drugs in the Catastrophic Coverage will be $9.85 for brand drugs and $3.95 for generics.
There is a lot of discussion in Congress about major changes in Medicare such as adding vision, hearing and dental benefits, lowering the age from 65 to 60, and more. Other proposals that are being considered include having the government more involved in the purchase of prescriptions from the pharmaceutical companies, adding coverage for blood tests to check for cancer, and changing the payment for all vaccines to Medicare Part B to reduce out-of-pocket costs. However, until Congress takes action, none of these initiatives are in place.
Join us for Medicare Monday to hear more about the 2022 Changes in Medicare on October 18, November 1 or 15, and for New to Medicare sessions for individuals enrolling in Medicare on October 25 or November 8.
The Society is again offering Wednesday lunch and learns discussions on Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Plans, Coordinating Medicare and Medicaid, Using Medicare.gov Online to Manage Benefits, and Using Telehealth for Routine Health Care Needs.
In addition, the Society will offer individual counseling sessions, prescription drug counseling sessions in collaboration with the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy, comparison shopping opportunities with major insurance companies, and resources on the porch at 1129 N Pennsylvania, Denver to get more information about Medicare and other programs.
Register at www.senioranswers.org or call 303-333-3482 for 1-855-294-3971 (toll-free) if you need help registering for the virtual event or if you plan to join us by phone to get the phone number and access codes.
Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society. Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the Director of the Society since 1982. She teaches Nonprofit Management for Fort Hays State University.