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Understanding Medicare Changes 2016
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Understanding Medicare Changes 2016

Medicare can be confusing, no matter your age. Don't feel badly if you don't know Part A from Part D when you first start the process. We've all been there, staring blankly at a brochure trying to estimate retirement plans and Social Security payments for the next decade. However, once the smoke clears and you start to get the hang of it, Medicare doesn't quite seem so confounding…until the end of the year when any upcoming changes are announced.

When January 1, 2016 rolled around, Medicare did change for some seniors. In the effort to keep you in the loop, here are a few Medicare changes or updates that you need to know about in the new year.

Part B Premiums Increased.For Some of You

Medicare Part B pays for doctor visits, preventative care, and any supplies or lab services that you might need to treat any medical condition. Services covered range from a visit to your doctor to diagnose your bronchitis to the wheelchair you need to rent after a hip surgery; Part B is important and covers a chunk of most of the services you use throughout the year.

You may already know that Social Security is not issuing a cost of living adjustment in 2016 to recipients. If you have your Medicare Part B premium taken directly from your Social Security payments which 70% of seniors do then you won't be paying anything extra for your Part B premiums in 2016. However, the remaining 30% of seniors who pay for Medicare Part B directly will see a substantial increase in premium cost. Part B premiums are increasing over 10%; while it is a hefty increase, it isn't the 52% projected the last quarter of 2015. Glass half full?

Part D Is Increasing Too

To continue the rate increases, Part D plans will be increasing premiums as well. Part D, to refresh your memory, is not maintained by the government. Instead, Part D prescription coverage is covered by outside private companies through the Medicare system. Most Part D plans will have higher premiums, with the most popular plans increasing approximately 8%. Again, the 8% will affect most of the Part D subscribers, but some plans will increase up to 26%.

Less Part D Options

If you find yourself needing Part D coverage in 2016, you will have fewer choices than in years past. In 2016, Part D options will decrease to 26 available plans, dropping from 30 in previous years.

What To Do

Now that you have a handle on some of the changes to your Medicare for the year, take time to review your other health coverage as well. Review any changes or updates to your supplemental or gap insurance, long term care insurance, prescription coverage, or retirement medical coverage.

It is important to remain informed so that you can prevent any confusion or unexpected bills in the new year.

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