Today's Hot Topics in Medicare News

Medicare Annual Wellness Exam

Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Medicare’s annual wellness benefit

BY ROWAN MEDICINE: Both new and existing Medicare beneficiaries can take advantage of annual preventive services that are free to most people covered under the program.

The ‘Welcome to Medicare’ preventive visit is available for those individuals who are in their first year of Medicare Part B coverage. For those who have been participating in Medicare for longer than 12 months, the government sponsored program offers an annual wellness visit. (read more)

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There's never been an easy way for Medicare beneficiaries to save on services and products not covered by Medicare alone, until now.

Facts you should know about enrolling in Medicare parts A & B 

BY JOSH WELLER: Understanding Medicare isn’t as difficult as you might think. It’s a benefit most working Americans can count on. Here are some facts you might not know about the program.

Can I still get Medicare at 65?

Yes, you’re still eligible for Medicare starting at 65, no matter what year you were born.

If you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years, you’re eligible for Part A (hospital insurance) at age 65 for free. Part A helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay. It also pays for some home health care and hospice care. You’re also eligible for Part B (medical insurance) if you choose to get it and pay a monthly premium. Part B helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventative services. If you are receiving Social Security benefits already, you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B at age 65. Because you must pay a premium for Part B, you can choose to turn it down. (read more)

How health insurers game Medicare Advantage ratings to boost bonus payments

BY AYLA ELLISON: Humana, UnitedHealth, Aetna, Anthem and other insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage plans use a tactic known as “crosswalking” to collect additional revenue from the federal government, according to an analysis of federal data by The Wall Street Journal.

Here are five things to know.

1. Medicare ranks Medicare Advantage plans on a quality scale of one to five stars, and pays bonuses to plans with high ratings. When an MA plan is not set to receive a financial bonus, health insurance companies will merge those patients into plans with higher scores, which preserves the bonuses. (read more)

What the Rise of Medicare Advantage Means for Skilled Nursing

BY ALEX SPANKO: About 33% of seniors enrolled in the Medicare program have elected to use managed Medicare Advantage plans, and that number is expected to grow — potentially faster than the government thinks.

The Congressional Budget Office has predicted growth in MA plans by about 4% per year, but Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, says his company projects the pace at closer to 6% or 7% per year.

“More and more seniors are voting with their feet,” Mendelson told an audience at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) Spring Investment Forum in Dallas on Thursday. (read more)

Hefty Income Hikes Medicare Costs as Surcharges Kick In

BY RACHEL L. SHEEDY: A big question every year at open enrollment for employer health insurance is how much will the premium rise? That doesn’t change once you’re on Medicare–Part B and Part D premiums typically increase each year. But, with Medicare there’s added anxiety: Your income can shoot premiums through the roof.

The government sets four Medicare surcharge tiers for 2018, based on a beneficiary’s income. As income rises above $85,000 for singles and $170,000 for joint filers, Part B and Part D costs begin a steep climb. For example, the standard monthly Part B premium of $134 per beneficiary jumps to $187.50, plus a $13 surcharge for Part D, for singles with modified adjusted gross income between $85,001 and $107,000. The income range for joint filers is $170,001 to $214,000. At the highest tier, which kicks in once income tops $160,000 for singles and $320,000 for joint filers, the monthly Medicare Part B premium runs $428.60 per beneficiary with a $74.80 surcharge for Part D. (read more)

The new Medicare Plus Card saves you up to 75% on things not covered by Medicare

Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Luckily, those on Medicare can now start saving on out of pocket expenses like prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, and more. Over 1 million people have already received their free Medicare Plus Card.

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