Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare

Sweeping changes to Medicare prescription drug costs

Sweeping changes to Medicare prescription drug costs, availability in the works under proposed rule

BY ST. GEORGE NEWS: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a proposed rule Thursday that includes a number of changes.

If finalized, the rule will ensure that Part D Medicare enrollees have access to more affordable prescription drugs and more robust prescription drug coverage at the pharmacy they prefer. The rule also gives health plans a new tool to combat the opioid crisis.

President Trump has been committed to lowering drug prices for seniors and fighting the opioid epidemic, according to a press release from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In response, CMS is working to lower drug prices by removing administrative hurdles to offer lower cost options to seniors on Medicare, as well as supporting private sector partners by providing them a much needed tool in the fight to end the opioid epidemic. (read more)




The Medicare mistake that could cost 62% of senior enrollees a fortune in 2018

BY SEAN WILLIAMS: For many retired Americans, Social Security is probably the most important social program. It’s not hard to imagine why, either. It provides a guaranteed monthly stipend for more than three out of five retired workers. But Medicare is coming up fast in the rearview mirror.

According to the Urban Institute, a median income 65-year-old is expected to receive more in lifetime benefits from Medicare than Social Security by 2055. That’s less than four decades away, and it’s a function of medical care expenses rising at a quicker pace than Social Security’s annual cost-of-living adjustment. In other words, not only are seniors trying to maximize their lifetime benefit from Social Security, but they need to also ensure that their Medicare plan is offering them the best possible value. (read more)

Women can’t be complacent about their Medicare choices – the cost is too high

BY SALLY GREENBERG: With all the news and controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment period, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Medicare open enrollment is also in full swing from now through December 7. This is the time for retirees to decide whether they should remain on their current Medicare plan or switch to another.

Ideally, the process should entail assessing your medical needs for the coming year, reviewing the details of your current plan to make sure it covers what you’ll need going forward, and considering whether there’s a better plan that will provide the right coverage at the right price. But unfortunately, that’s not how it usually works. In fact, a new survey sponsored by WellCare Health Plans, called the Cost of Complacency, shows that only about a third of seniors comparison shop for a Medicare plan at all. (read more)

The rising Medicare scams you need to know about

BY GRACE BIRNSTENGEL: Open Enrollment time is here, and in addition to navigating the Medicare maze to get the best benefits possible, those eligible for the federal health program for Americans 65+ have another thing to be worried about: Medicare scams.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that scammers may pose as “official” Medicare agents over the phone or at the door in an attempt to gather personal information or swindle people into purchasing pricey “replacement cards,” Time reported in a recent story.

This type of scamming is likely on the rise this year, according to AARP. The reason? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out new (and free) cards in 2018 to replace current cards with Social Security numbers on them. Although this measure is meant to protect Medicare-holders’ identity, the process gives scammers the perfect opportunity to trick people into buying new cards. AARP also points out that Medicare scammers take advantage of recent natural disasters by claiming falsely that cardholders should, or must, purchase new, weather-resistant cards. (read more)

Higher premiums for outpatient coverage for many on Medicare

BY RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR: Higher monthly premiums for outpatient coverage await many Medicare beneficiaries next year, the government says. The additional expense will eat away at an increase in their Social Security checks.

The news about “Part B” premiums was buried in the fine print of a notice issued late Friday afternoon by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“For many seniors living on fixed incomes this could be a concern,” said Tricia Neuman, an expert on the Medicare program at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “People who are expecting an increase in their Social Security checks because of the cost-of-living adjustment may be disappointed.” (read more)

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