By Eileen Doherty, MS
Colorado Gerontological Society
Congress announced the cost-of-living adjustment (also known as COLA) for Social Security will raise 5.9 percent in 2022, a significant increase for retirees and the disabled. This raise will likely result in a significant increase, maybe as high as $158.50 per month, in Medicare Part B premiums. Congress has not taken action.
Open enrollment started Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7 if you want to make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
Individuals who have a Medicare supplement are not affected by open enrollment. Instead, they have an initial enrollment period or a special enrollment period when they claim Medicare benefits. Beneficiaries who have a Medicare supplement do not need to make any changes to their Part A and B coverage.
Each year, some Medicare beneficiaries feel they are unable to pay the Medicare Part B monthly premium. It is not recommended that individuals drop their Medicare Part B coverage as this is the part of Medicare that covers the 80 percent of approved charges for doctor’s visits, labs, X-rays, emergency room visits, ambulance charges, vaccines and outpatient costs at a hospital or surgery center.
Low-income individuals may qualify for help with the Medicare Part B and D premium costs and out-of-pocket costs.
Individuals who choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan may be able to choose a plan that has a zero monthly premium with some additional benefits to Medicare Part A and B such as transportation, case management, vision, hearing and limited meal programs. If the Part B costs do not have a co-pay, the out-of-pocket is usually 20 percent of the negotiated charge.
Most Medicare Advantage plans are offering dental benefits with limits on specific procedures and caps on the dental charges. Plans are expanding to rural counties.
Similarly, Medicare Part D is also increasing. The average premium is expected to be about $33, or about a 4.9 percent increase. The annual deductible is increasing to $480. The total out-of-pocket expense will increase to $7,050. Co-pays for generic and brand-name drugs in the Donut Hole will vary. The maximum costs for drugs in the Catastrophic Coverage will be $9.85 for brand drugs and $3.95 for generics.
Join the society for virtual Medicare Monday sessions to hear more about the 2022 changes in Medicare and for new to Medicare sessions for new enrollees.
Wednesday lunch-and-learndiscussions will be on selecting prescription plans, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans, coordinating Medicare and Medicaid, using Medicare.gov online to manage benefits and using telehealth for routine health care needs.
Individual counseling sessions and prescription drug counseling sessions are available. All virtual sessions will be posted for later viewing at our YouTube channel.
For dates and times, register at www.senioranswers.org or call (303) 333-3482 for (855) 294-3971 (toll free) if you need help registering for the virtual event or if you plan to join us by phone to get the phone number and access codes.
Eileen Doherty, MS, is the executive director of the Colorado Gerontological Society. Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the director of the society since 1982. She teaches nonprofit management for Fort Hays State University.