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Will My Medicare Costs Go Up in 2019 and Beyond?

Medicare costs might be on your mind as you look at your expenses. Are Medicare costs going up in 2019? What can you expect, and how might you keep some of these Medicare costs down?

How much does Medicare cost?

The question of how much Medicare costs has no quick and easy answer. A lot depends on the type of Medicare coverage you have, and how often you visit the doctor or hospital.

So, let’s go through the different “parts” of Medicare to get an idea of what costs you might be responsible for. 

How much does Medicare Part A cost?

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. Here’s how much Medicare Part A costs in 2019.

  • Monthly premium: You might be able to save on this Medicare cost if you don’t have to pay the Part A premium. Most people don’t. If you’ve worked at least 10 years (40 quarters) while paying Medicare taxes, you don’t have to pay a Part A premium.

If you paid Medicare taxes for 30-39 quarters, your Part A premium is $240 in 2019. If you paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters, your Part A premium is $437 in 2019.

  • Deductible: $1,364 in 2019. Note that this cost isn’t per year, but per benefit period. A new benefit period starts when you haven’t had inpatient hospital care or skilled nursing care for at least 60 days in a row, and you’re newly admitted as an inpatient.
  • Daily coinsurance or copayment: When you’re an inpatient in the hospital, or if you’re in a skilled nursing facility, Part A may cover some of the costs of your stay.

The first 60 days you’re an inpatient, you generally don’t pay coinsurance (but the deductible may apply). Days 61 through 90, you’ll typically pay $341 per day in 2019. From Day 91 on, your coinsurance is $682 per day for each “lifetime reserve day.” You get a total of 60 lifetime reserve days in your lifetime. When they’re used up, you may have to pay all costs.

What about skilled nursing care? If you’re admitted to a skilled nursing facility and meet certain conditions, Medicare Part A may cover your care. You won’t have to pay any coinsurance for the first 20 days (although a deductible may apply). Your daily coinsurance cost is $170.50 for days 21-100 in 2019. After Day 100, you’ll generally pay all costs. 

How much does Medicare Part B cost?

Medicare Part B is medical insurance. Here’s how much Medicare Part B costs in 2019.

  • Monthly premium: The standard Part B premium cost is $135.50 in 2019. You might pay a different amount, depending on when you first enrolled in Part B, whether you pay a late enrollment penalty, and whether your income is over a certain amount.
  • Annual deductible: $185 per year in 2019.
  • Coinsurance or copayment: Many Part B services and items cost you 20% of the Medicare-approved charges. Some Part B services may cost you nothing.

Could Medicare Supplement insurance help with Medicare costs?

Medicare Supplement insurance can help with your Medicare Part A and Part B costs, like coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. Did you read about your Medicare Part A costs earlier in this article? If you’re hospitalized for a long time, or often, your Part A costs can get very high.

Medicare Supplement plans typically pay your Part A costs for a full year (365 days) after your Medicare benefits run out. Read more about Medicare Supplement insurance.

How much does a Medicare Supplement plan cost? Private companies sell them and set the premiums and deductibles (if any), so again, you’ll need to compare plans. One easy, quick way to do that is to enter your zip code in the box on this page, click the button, and click the Medicare Supplement tab.

How much does Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) cost?

Medicare Part C is the Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Part C costs can vary among plans. Medicare Advantage plans provide your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits through a private insurance company approved by Medicare.

  • Monthly premium: Your Medicare Advantage premium might be as low as $0 per month. But you may want to look at other plan costs too – like the deductible and coinsurance or copayments described below.
  • Annual deductible: This cost is the amount you may have to pay before the plan covers services. As with other Medicare Advantage costs, it may be different from one plan to the next.
  • Coinsurance or copayment: Medicare Advantage plans typically charge coinsurance or copayments as your share of covered services. Again, this cost may vary.

To figure out your Medicare Advantage costs, compare plans and look at how much each one charges for premiums, deductibles, and other cost sharing. Think about what services you’ll likely use. For example, if you find a Medicare Advantage plan with a $0 premium but a high deductible cost, and you’re healthy and rarely need medical care, that kind of plan might work for you. If you go to the doctor a few times a year, you might want a lower deductible, even if it means paying a monthly premium. Take a careful look at each plan in your area to see which one (if any) may be a good fit.

You can get started comparing plans right now – just enter your zip code in the box on this page.

When you’re figuring out your Medicare Advantage costs, don’t forget to add in the Medicare Part B premium. You’ll still need to pay this premium, as well as any premium the plan may cost you. 

How much does Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) cost?

Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage. Medicare Part D costs – like Part C costs – may differ among plans. Stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans are available from Medicare-approved private insurance companies.

It’s worth mentioning that you can get Part D coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan. Not every Medicare Advantage plan covers medications, but many of them do.

  • Monthly premium: This Medicare Part D cost will likely differ among plans. If your income is above a certain amount, you may have to pay a higher premium.
  • You may also pay a higher premium if you delayed Part D enrollment and you pay a late enrollment penalty. But if you have a low income, it’s possible that Medicaid will cover most of your Part D costs. Read about the Medicare low-income subsidy.
  • Annual deductible: This Part D cost may vary among plans. However, no stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan may charge more than $415 in 2019.
  • Coinsurance or copayment: As with other Part D costs, these costs may not be the same from one plan to another.
  • Costs in the Part D coverage gap: If you and your plan together spend a total of $3,820 on prescription drug costs in 2019, you’ll enter the coverage gap, or “donut hole.” During this coverage phase, your Medicare Part D costs in 2019 will be no more than 37% of the cost of each generic drug, and no more than 25% for brand-name drugs.
  • If your out-of-pocket prescription drug spending reaches $5,100 in 2019, you’ll enter the catastrophic coverage stage. You’ll only pay a small coinsurance or copayment for each medication for the rest of the year.

As with other types of plans, you can compare plans right now – just type your zip code in the box on this page.

Note: The government is not planning large spending cuts to Medicare in the immediate future as of this article’s publishing date, according to AARP. So, Medicare costs are not expected to change in 2019 beyond what’s listed in this article.

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