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The New Medicare Changes

Published on: Apr 20 2015

Congress recently passed, and the President said he will sign, a new law containing what’ known as “the doc fix.” Some years ago Congress decided to save money on Medicare and Medicaid by setting up a schedule that reduced the amounts that would be paid to doctors. The reimbursement schedule was unrealistically low, often paying doctors less than their costs for services. So, each year Congress would change the law for one year only.

This year, Congress finally decided to come together with a permanent fix for doctors and for some hospital payments. Of course, this results in more money being paid to those medical providers, so someone has to pay for it. One group that will be paying for it is Medicare beneficiaries, but not for several years. This article describes many of the provisions and can help with your longer-term planning.

Starting in 2018, wealthier Medicare beneficiaries (individuals with incomes above $133,500, with thresholds higher for couples), would pay more for their Medicare coverage, a provision expected to impact 2% of beneficiaries.

In addition, starting in 2020, “first-dollar” supplemental Medicare insurance known as “Medigap” policies would not be able to cover the Part B deductible for new beneficiaries, which is currently $147 per year but has increased in past years. If the policy had been implemented in 2010, it would have affected Medigap coverage for roughly 10% of all 65-year-olds on Medicare, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Based on declining Medigap enrollment trends among 65-year-olds, expect this policy to impact a smaller share of new Medicare beneficiaries in the future, according to the study. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

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