Medicare remains a hot-button topic among Americans as the year ends. From members of the public to politicians, everything about Medicare, including solvency, benefits, and regulatory updates, is a topic of discussion. While the Biden-Harris Administration has devoted significant resources to help address the rising healthcare costs in the United States, particularly for Medicare beneficiaries, costs under Medicare remain an issue of contention. 2024 does promise to be an exciting year for Medicare, especially after several important updates that occurred in 2023.
Legislation delivers improvements to access and costs
Two key pieces of legislation went into effect this year that delivered important cost savings and improvements to how Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries access these benefits.
Provisions of the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act went into effect earlier this year after originally becoming law in 2020. The BENES Act, which aims to make it easier for people to enroll in Medicare and eliminates delays in coverage, has many components, including eliminating the waiting period for enrollees across different enrollment periods.
In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act set forth provisions that limited costs associated with Medicare and passed along savings on prescription drugs. While many of the provisions of the Act will take effect over the next few years, those applicable in 2023 included a requirement for pharmaceutical companies to provide rebates to Medicare when the costs of drugs outpace inflation, which can help keep total healthcare costs down.
Another important change that took effect in 2023 is the $35 per month cost-sharing limit for insulin products covered under Part D and insulin covered by Part B. In addition, Medicare Part D beneficiaries seeking recommended vaccinations, such as shingles and Tdap, can now get these at no charge.
Costs set to rise in 2024
Each year, Medicare premiums are adjusted per the Social Security Act. While premiums and deductibles decreased in 2023, costs are set to rise in 2024. Most beneficiaries will continue to receive Part A, which provides benefits for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, home health care, and nursing home care, on a cost-free basis, depending on work history. However, the Part A deductible will increase slightly from $1,600 to $1,632. The costs of Medicare Part B, which typically covers physicians’ and outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other services not covered by Part A, are also set to increase. The premium will increase about 6% from $164.90 to $174.70, and beneficiaries will also see their deductibles rise from $226 to $240.
Proposed rule aims to reform Medicare Advantage and Part D programs
On November 6th, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would make revisions to the Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D) programs, as well as other programs built to strengthen the protections around Medicare beneficiaries.
This latest proposal features new potential restrictions on Medicare Advantage and Part D plan marketing. Based on the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to address what they see as problematic marketing practices, several changes target agent and broker compensation. In addition, the proposed rule aims to advance health equity, improve beneficiary access to certain services, and enhance the administration of programs while adding additional protections for seniors who utilize Medicare’s benefits.
Preparing for 2024
The impact of enacted and proposed Medicare legislation will require preparation and communication to ensure beneficiaries can navigate changes appropriately. At Aevo Insurance Services, we will continue to monitor and report on changes that beneficiaries and their caregivers should be aware of. Should you have any questions or require additional support, reach out to one of the Licensed Insurance Agents at Aevo Insurance Services, a division of Brown & Brown Absence Services Group, or to Medicare directly.
We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all your options.
Aevo Insurance Services is proud to be part of the Brown & Brown team of companies.