How to Lower Your Medicare Costs During Annual Enrollment for 2024
Medicare annual enrollment for 2024 is just around the corner, and there are some potential changes to be aware of. Whether you’re already on Medicare or about to enroll for the first time, it’s crucial to understand how these changes could impact your healthcare costs and coverage. In this blog post, we’ll break down three big Medicare changes you may see in 2024 and provide practical tips on how to lower your Medicare costs during open enrollment.
Annual Enrollment Period (AEP):
Dates: The Annual Enrollment Period, often called the Medicare Annual Election Period, occurs annually from October 15th to December 7th. This is the time when most Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare coverage for the upcoming year.
Changes Allowed: During AEP, you can make a range of changes to your Medicare coverage, including:
- Switch from Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) to a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C).
- Switch from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
- Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
- Enroll in or switch Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.
Coverage Effective Date: Changes made during AEP take effect on January 1st of the following year. It is crucial to make decisions and submit any necessary paperwork during this period to ensure your coverage is in place when the new year begins.
Three Big Medicare Changes for 2024
1. The End to Some Out-of-Pocket Costs for Catastrophic Prescription Costs
One of the most significant changes expected in 2024 is the reduction of out-of-pocket costs for catastrophic prescription expenses. If your Part D out-of-pocket spending for prescriptions exceeds $8,000, you won’t have to pay copayments or co-insurance. This is a significant improvement from the 5% co-insurance you had to pay after reaching $7,400 in 2023.
Tip: If you have high prescription drug costs in 2023, consider comparing Part D plans for your medications in 2024 to take advantage of this change.
2. Bigger Savings for Low- and Moderate-Income Individuals
Expected in 2024, individuals who qualify for Medicare’s Extra Help subsidies will pay $0 for Part D premiums and deductibles. This change also includes reduced costs for generic and brand-name drugs. To be eligible for Extra Help, your 2023 income must be below $21,870 (or $29,580 for couples), with limited resources not exceeding $16,660 (or $33,240 for married couples), excluding your primary residence, vehicles, and personal possessions.
Tip: If you meet these income and resource thresholds, be sure to sign up for Extra Help when enrolling in a Part D plan.
3.Improved Mental Health Care Coverage:
Medicare will now cover mental health services provided by marriage and family therapists, as well as mental health counselors. However, it’s essential to ensure that these professionals accept Medicare for you to benefit from this coverage.
Tip: Consider Medicare Advantage plans with networks that include your mental health professionals you need for your care.
Considering making any changes to your coverage?
- Review the Annual Notice of Change: Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans will announce their rules and costs for 2024. You’ll receive an Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Benefits in late September if you’re already enrolled in one of these plans.
- Pay attention to changes in premiums, co-insurance, copayments, and prescription coverage.
- If you’re enrolling in a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan for the first time in 2024 or considering switching plans, comparison shopping is crucial.
- You can compare plans online through Medicare’s Plan Finder tool, call Medicare at 800-MEDICARE, Consider meeting with a Medicare agent or broker, but make sure they represent all available plans in your area.
As a Medicare beneficiary, it’s a good idea to review your plan annually to stay current on any changes and ensure that you have the most suitable coverage for your healthcare needs. By doing so, you can avoid paying for services you don’t need and take advantage of any new benefits. Reviewing your plan and making any necessary adjustments is crucial to guaranteeing the best possible coverage for you.
Changing Healthcare Needs: Your health can change from year to year. New medical conditions may arise, and your existing conditions may require different treatments or medications. By reviewing your coverage annually, you can ensure that your plan still meets your healthcare needs.
Coverage Changes: Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans can change their benefits, premiums, copayments, and formularies (the list of covered drugs) each year. What was covered one year may not be covered the next, or the cost-sharing for your medications may change. Reviewing your plan helps you stay informed about these changes.
Network Changes: Medicare Advantage plans often have provider networks. Doctors and hospitals can join or leave these networks, which can affect your access to healthcare providers. It’s crucial to check if your preferred healthcare providers are still in-network.
Financial Considerations: Your financial situation may change from year to year. You might have different income levels, which can affect your eligibility for programs like Extra Help or Medicare Savings Programs. Additionally, you may find more cost-effective plans that better suit your budget.
Plan Performance: Medicare releases annual star ratings for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, which evaluate plan quality based on various factors. Reviewing these ratings can help you choose a plan with a good track record of providing quality care and services.
New Plan Options: Medicare plans evolve, and new plans become available. By reviewing your coverage, you can explore new plan options that may offer better coverage, lower costs, or additional benefits that align with your needs.
Avoiding Penalties: If you miss certain enrollment periods or don’t sign up for specific types of coverage when you’re first eligible, you may face penalties or delayed coverage. Regularly reviewing your Medicare coverage helps you stay aware of these deadlines.
Preventing Surprise Expenses: Without reviewing your coverage, you may inadvertently discover that a medical service or medication you need is no longer covered or is subject to high out-of-pocket costs. This can lead to unexpected medical expenses.
Maximizing Benefits: Medicare offers various preventive services and wellness benefits. By reviewing your coverage, you can take advantage of these services, such as annual wellness visits, vaccinations, and screenings, to maintain your health proactively.