Three Medicare Improvements for 2019

Now 53 years old, Medicare, has higher rates of satisfaction from its 60 million members than almost any other form of health insurance and it is getting better. Here are three Medicare improvements for 2019:

1. Shrinking the Doughnut Hole

Medicare doughnut hole closing
The Part D doughnut hole, or the coverage gap, begins when the enrollee reaches the initial coverage limit and before catastrophic coverage kicks in. Under the Affordable Care Act, the doughnut hole has been reduced annually so it would close completely by 2020. However, the changes made in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 will close the doughnut hole in 2019 for branded drugs. Because of BBA, the beneficiaries pay 25 percent cost-sharing on all branded drugs (down from the 35 percent in 2018) and 37 percent of the cost of generic drugs (down from 44 percent in 2018). The cost of closing the doughnut hole one year early is shifted to the drug manufacturers, who will pay 70 percent of the discount for branded drugs (up from 50 percent). Read more on our blog: Good News for Medicare Part D in 2019.

2. Therapy Cap Gone

Beneficiaries of original Medicare won’t have to pay the full cost of outpatient physical, speech or occupational therapy because Congress permanently repealed the cap that has historically limited coverage of those services. Medicare law no longer limits how much it pays for your medically necessary outpatient therapy services in one calendar year.

3. Medicare’s Telemedicine Program is Growing

Senior woman looking at computer screen
Many seniors neglect or delay medical care because they struggle with mobility issues. To address this, Medicare has been offering a telehealth program that allows patients and doctors to connect via videoconference.

Beginning in 2019, telehealth services will be available to patients who have end-stage renal disease or are in the midst of stroke treatment.

The only bad news is Medicare deductibles are going up for Parts A and B.

When you utilize healthcare services under Medicare, you’re subject to an out-of-pocket deductible that must be met before your coverage kicks in. The annual deductible for Medicare Part B will be $185 in 2019, which represents a $2 increase from 2018. Meanwhile, the Medicare Part A inpatient deductible for hospital admittance will be $1,364 in 2019. That’s a $24 increase from the current year.

The good news is your Supplement plan F will cover all the cost and if you have a Supplement plan G you will only have to worry about the $2 increase of the part B deductible.

So, all and all great news for 2019!

Choosing a Medicare Supplement Plan can be overwhelming and confusing! We are here to help! Give us a call at (512) 900-3008 to schedule a free consultation. We can look at your existing plan and let you know if there is a better plan to fit your health needs and budget. Or contact us through our website: