Medicare Annual Enrollment Period season is here. It’s the perfect time to enroll in a plan or make changes to your existing plan.
Medicare changes every year. We go over what you can expect for 2022 whether you should go with Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare Changes for 2022
As of October 2021, changes to the cost of Part B premium for 2022 were not announced. Premium rates should remain consistent if you’re already enrolled. In 2021, Medicare Part B cost $148.50.
In 2021, the Part A deductible is $1,484. The Part B deductible is $203, and you pay 20% of Medicare-approved amounts after the deductible.
Medical and Treatment Changes
Several additional benefits have been added to Medicare for 2022 to help you manage costs and medical care.
Medicare will continue to cover vaccines, diagnostic tests, antibody tests, and monoclonal antibody treatments if you contract the coronavirus. Tests are free. Antibody treatments are covered 100% if you qualify. However, coverage could change once the federal government determines the public health emergency is over.
Medicare will cover some bariatric surgical procedures if you meet specific criteria related to morbid obesity. This includes gastric bypass and laparoscopic banding surgery.
Cognitive assessment & care plan services
When you see your doctor (like for an annual Wellness check), he or she can check you for signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s with a cognitive assessment. Some signs of cognitive impairment include trouble remembering, learning new skills, concentrating or making everyday decisions.
Medicare also covers separate visits to your doctor or specialists to review cognitive function. Just note that your Part B deductible and coinsurance still apply.
Blood-based biomarker test
Medicare covers this lab test in full in certain cases (and if you are eligible). You can do it every three years if your doctor orders it.
Opioid prescriptions can now be evaluated annually. Your provider will:
- Review any potential risk factors.
- Evaluate your pain level.
- Analyze your treatment plan,
- Possibly suggest non-opioid treatment options.
The COVID-19 pandemic elevated the use of telehealth (or telemedicine) to all-time highs. Medicare has adjusted its rules for this online, no-contact service as well. Some healthcare providers are also waiving the fee for telehealth during the pandemic. If you are charged, you will pay 20% coinsurance for the visit. Your Part B deductible also applies.
Medicare Advantage Changes for 2022
The changes to Original Medicare also apply to Medicare Advantage (see above).
Costs vary by insurance carrier and where you live. So research plans and pricing to see if you could save money by switching.
In 2022, the average Medicare Advantage premium cost $19 a month, down nearly 35% since 2017.
You still pay the Part B premium ($148.50 in 2021). But you may qualify for a reduced rate based on income. With the “Part B giveback” program, the premium average is approximately $130.
Medicare Part D Changes for 2022
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare have announced an increase to Part D in 2022, the prescription benefit for Medicare beneficiaries.
The average 2022 basic Part D premium will increase by almost 5% from $31.47 in 2021 to $33.
Most part D drug plans (including Medicare Advantage plans with medication coverage) have their own list of what drugs are covered. Plans include both brand-name drugs and generics. At least two of the most commonly prescribed drugs are on the list in each drug category.
If you have a higher income, you may pay more for your prescription coverage. If your income is above a certain limit ($88,000 if you file individually or $176,000 if you’re married and file jointly), you’ll pay an additional amount on top of your plan premium. The same goes for a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage.
The Annual Enrollment Period runs October 15 – December 7 each year. This is when you can:
- Enroll in Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage for the first time (if you qualify), and
- Change an existing Medicare plan.
A separate Medicare Advantage enrollment period is available from January 1 – March 31 if you want to change your Medicare Advantage coverage.