Market Watch 11/29/2021
Open enrollment for Medicare goes from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year, when Medicare beneficiaries choose their coverage for the next plan year. As Medicare enrollees contemplate their choices for 2022, here are overall Medicare changes to keep in mind.
Original Medicare costs are going up
Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B. A separate Medicare drug plan, called Part D, is also available. Here’s how deductibles, premiums and coinsurances are changing in 2022:
Medicare Part A (hospital insurance)
Although most Medicare beneficiaries don’t pay a premium for Medicare Part A, those who do will see higher costs, paying $499 a month in 2022, up from $471 a month in 2021. This premium applies to you if you worked and paid Medicare taxes for less than 30 quarters. If you worked and paid Medicare taxes for 30 to 39 quarters, you’ll pay $274 a month for Part A in 2022, up from $259 in 2021. If you paid Medicare taxes for 40 quarters or more, you won’t owe a premium.
The Part A inpatient hospital deductible is increasing to $1,556 in 2022 for each benefit period, up from $1,484 in 2021. Coinsurance is also rising as follows:
- Hospitalization days 1 to 60: Members pay $0 coinsurance for each benefit period.
- Hospitalization days 61 to 90: Members pay $389 coinsurance per day for each benefit period, up from $371 in 2021.
- Hospitalization days 91 and up: Members pay $778 coinsurance per every “lifetime reserve day” after day 90 for each benefit period, up from $742 in 2021. Members get up to 60 lifetime reserve days over the span of their life.
Coinsurance for skilled nursing facility care will remain at $0 for days 1 to 20 for each benefit period, and will be $194.50 per day for days 21 to 100 of each benefit period in 2022, up from $185.50 per day in 2021.
All Medicare members pay a Part B premium, and that is increasing to $170.10 per month in 2022, up from $148.50 in 2021. You may pay a higher premium, depending on your income. For example, those who file taxes individually with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $91,000 (or those who file joint tax returns with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $182,000) will pay an additional $68 to $408.20 per month on top of the Medicare Part B premium.
The Part B deductible is increasing to $233 in 2022, up from $203 in 2021. Once you meet your deductible, you generally will pay 20% of Medicare-approved costs for Part B services.
Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage)
The average Medicare Part D premium in 2022 will be $33 per month, versus $31.47 in 2021. Those with higher incomes will pay more: Those who file taxes individually with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $91,000 (or those who file joint tax returns with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $182,000) will pay an additional $12.40 to $77.90 per month on top of their Part D premium.
Medicare Advantage plan ratings are higher
Medicare Advantage is a bundled alternative to Original Medicare that includes all the coverages of Medicare Part A, Part B and usually Part D. Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Part C, often include additional benefits, such as some cost help with dental, vision and hearing care, fitness memberships, over-the-counter allowances and meal delivery.
Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services assigns every Medicare Advantage plan a star rating, ranking each plan from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). These ratings are based on plans’ quality of care and measurements of customer satisfaction, and those ratings can change each year.
In 2022, the average star rating for Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans is 4.37, compared to 4.06 in 2021. In fact, 68% of Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage have received an overall rating of 4 stars or higher for 2022, compared to 49% in 2021, according to the CMS.
Medicare Advantage premiums are lower
The average premium in 2022 for Medicare Advantage plans will be $19 per month, versus $21.22 in 2021. (Note: Medicare Advantage members are still responsible for the Medicare Part B monthly premium, which is $170.10 in 2022.)
More people are projected to enroll in Medicare Advantage in 2022 as well: The CMS estimates 29.5 million people will sign up, compared to 26.9 million in 2021.
There are 3,834 Medicare Advantage plans available in 2022, up 8% from 2021. Of the 2022 plans, 59% are health maintenance organization, or HMO, plans, and 37% are preferred provider organization, or PPO, plans.
Making plan changes
Changes you make during Medicare open enrollment will take effect on Jan. 1. During this open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, you can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa, or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another one.
If you discover that you’ve erred in your plan choice after the enrollment period ends, there’s a Medicare Advantage open enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31. During this time, you can do the following:
- Switch Medicare Advantage plans.
- Return to an Original Medicare plan, with the option to join a Part D prescription drug plan.
During Medicare Advantage open enrollment, you can’t switch to a Medicare Advantage plan if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare. Additionally, if you return to Original Medicare, you might not be able to buy a Medigap policy. Your coverage will begin on the first day of the month after you request a plan change.
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Kate Ashford writes for NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @kateashford.