Many of us are still struggling to remember to write “2019” instead of “2018.” Nevertheless, the new year is well underway. In case you’re still catching up, here’s a look at what’s changing in Medicare and Social Security.
Social Security Adjustments
The Social Security Administration has announced adjustments for 2019. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2019 means that Social Security benefits are going up 2.8 percent over last year’s benefits.
The earnings limit for people who have not yet reached full retirement age (66 for anyone born between 1943 and 1954) has also been adjusted. It’s been increased to $17,640 for 2019, which means that for every $2 earned over $17,640, $1 will be deducted from benefits. For people turning 66 in 2019, the limit is $46,920, and $1 will be deducted for every $3 earned over the limit until the birth month.
While Social Security benefits went up slightly, Medicare costs also went up. In 2019, the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B is $135.50, and the annual deductible for Medicare Part B is $185.
Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period
Starting in 2019, Medicare enrollees have a new enrollment period. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31. During these three months, anyone enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan can make a one-time enrollment change to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or to switch to Original Medicare. Corresponding changes to Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage are also allowed.
The new Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period replaces the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period observed in previous years. Learn more about the new enrollment period.
New Medicare Advantage Benefits
Last year, CMS announced new rules that give Medicare Advantage providers more flexibility to offer additional benefits, including adult day care services, in-home assistance with daily activities and respite care for caregivers. Approximately 1.5 million enrollees will have access to these additional benefits in 2019.
Learn more about new long-term care benefits in Medicare Advantage plans.
CMS’s eMedicare initiative aims to provide improved online services for Medicare enrollees. As part of this initiative, CMS has released the What’s Covered app. This app provides coverage information on items and services under Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. Users can search for the item or service they need, or select it from an alphabetical listing, to see whether it’s covered and what the out-of-pocket costs are.
The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.