Finally we are starting to see what changes in Medicare await seniors for 2014! Here are answers to a few of the most common questions we have been receiving…
- Will there be fewer doctors accepting Medicare patients in 2014? According to HHS there was an increase in doctors accepting Medicare from 2012 to 2013, and is expected to increase in 2014. However, access to doctors may be a more prevalent issue, as 10,000 baby boomers a day join the Medicare rolls. The increase in doctors is not expected to keep up with the increase in Medicare eligible. According to a study by MedPac (Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) this along with some doctors not accepting new Medicare patients, will leave 1 in 4 Medicare recipients having difficulty finding a primary care physician.
- Will Medicare Advantage still be available in my area? Depends, with Medicare reimbursement rates expected to decrease in the coming years, plan carriers are expected to shrink their coverage areas. The reimbursement rates are determined on a county by county basis. Therefore, counties with lower reimbursement rates can expect to see some plans leave the county.
- Is Medicare Advantage being cut for 2014? No, Medicare Advantage Reimbursement rates are actually being increased by 3%. Plans to cut were changed due to congressional concern over consumer backlash. However, the reimbursement rate will not keep pace with the cost of care. This will lead to some benefit reductions or increased copays and premiums in some plans. Future cuts will probably be necessary though to keep Medicare Advantage viable.
- Is my supplement going to change coverage? No, there have been rumors that Medigap plan F would be getting a facelift, in the way of a deductible. After listening to the conference of state Insurance Directors, Kathleen Sebelius agreed that this would not be ideal for consumers or for helping keep down healthcare costs.
- Is my Medicare Advantage plan going to change? In general, copays, premiums, and maximum out of pocket costs will be increasing slightly to moderate depending on the area. Additional benefits like dental, vision, and the popular Silver Sneakers program will be added or dropped from various plans.
- Is there anything I need to be aware of heading into 2014? Yes, in an effort to improve hospital in patient outcomes the reimbursement rate for hospitals with a high readmission rate have been reduced. As a result hospitals are not admitting many individuals initially, but putting them in observation and running any necessary tests. This allows them to help the patient and send them home, and if they need to return for the same reason they will be considered first admission at that point. This only causes a problem for individuals with original Medicare or Medicare Advantage. The observation is billed as outpatient and has copays which do not apply towards the hospital copay or part A deductible if the individual ends up needing to be admitted.
- Finally, the 2014 Part A & B deductible will be released soon as will the Part B premium. Expect little or no change, but we will update the blog as soon as the information is available.
- Part A Deductible will be $1216 per benefit period, a $32 increase over the 2013 amount
- Part B Deductible remains unchanged at $147
- Part B Premiums for 2014 will remain the same at $104.90 for individuals below the $85,000 income level. Premiums for individuals above this level also are unchanged.