Changes Ahead for Medicare Plans for 2020

Changes Ahead for Medicare Plans for 2020

As open enrollment for Medicare is just around the corner, changes are coming for 2020 that all enrollees and those who are enrolling for the first time should be aware of.

Some of the changes are routine, but there are a few regarding the availability of certain plans as well as significant changes to Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans.

Below is a rundown of the changes coming for the 2020 policy year.

Medicare Part B

The monthly premium is projected to rise to $144.30 a month, up from $135.50 in 2019.

Medicare supplements

Two plans will disappear for new enrollees, starting Jan. 1, 2020: Medicare supplements (Medigap) Plans F and C. These two plans have been highly popular (despite being more expensive than many other plans) because they have no deductible.

Plan F has no deductible for services under Part A and it covers the $185 deductible under Part B. Plan C is similar, but enrollees have to pay the Part B deductible.

The High Deductible F (HDF) will also be taken off the market for new Medicare enrollees, despite having a $2,300 deductible.

This plan will be replaced with the High Deductible Plan G (HDG), which also has a $2,300 deductible and operates like an HDF. The only difference is that if you spend $2,300 on Part A-only hospital expenses before spending any money for Part B services, you will still need to meet the Part B $185 deductible.

The good news is that if you already have Plans F, HDF or C, you will be able to keep them. Even if you do not have one of the plans now and you have turned 65 before Jan. 1, 2020, you will always have the option to buy one of these plans. This change only affects those born in 1955 and beyond.

Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans

The biggest change is in prescription coverage; specifically, the coverage gap, sometimes referred to as the “donut hole.”

For 2020, the threshold for entering the gap will be $4,020. Once in the gap you pay 25% of the retail cost for all drugs you buy. That’s a change from this year, when the threshold is $3,820, while in the gap people pay 37% for generics and 25% for brand name drugs.

You will exit the gap when the total retail cost of drugs purchased in the gap, plus the total amount you paid for drugs prior to entering the gap, totals $6,350. That’s up significantly from $5,100 in 2019. In other words, you will have to pay more to get into the gap and more to get out of it.

Medicare.gov plan finder

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is launching a new plan finder that will be operational Oct. 1, 2019. This will be the first change to the finder in 10 years. It requires users to create individual accounts, which track your prescriptions, and should make the annual review easier.

The new plan finder walks users through the Medicare Advantage and Part D enrollment process from start to finish, and allows people to view and compare many of the supplemental benefits that Medicare Advantage plans offer.

The new finder should make it easier to:

  • Compare pricing between original Medicare, Medicare prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement insurance policies.
  • Compare coverage options on smartphones and tablets.
  • Compare up to three drug plans or three Medicare Advantage plans, side-by-side.
  • Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits.
  • Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage that best meets your needs.

Medicare Advantage

Several companies are introducing new plans for 2020 and there are likely to be some new lower-priced preferred provider organization (PPO) plans and plans with lower maximum-out-of-pocket limits.

Please note that in September all Medicare Advantage plans will send out their Annual Notice of Changes, and if you are currently enrolled you should receive one. You should read it so that you know what, if any, changes are coming.

Pay particular attention to the prescription drug portion to see if the plan is eliminating any of your prescriptions.