En español | Medicare enrollees have just a few days — until Dec. 7 — to make sure their health coverage is set for 2020. There's still time to get assistance as you make your final decisions, but the longer you wait, the busier the helplines will be.
The standard premium for Medicare Part B is climbing to $144.60 in 2020 and the annual Part B deductible will be $198. The inpatient deductible that patients will pay for each hospital admission will be $1,408. Almost all Medicare beneficiaries (99 percent) do not have to pay a Part A premium.
The average premium for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is expected to be about $23 in 2020 and the average Part D drug premium is estimated to be $30. But these are only averages. MA and Part D plans are private insurance policies and the premiums vary widely, depending on which plan you pick and where you live.
For the second year in a row, the federal government has expanded the array of services MA plans can offer, such as more in-home meals, transportation to medical appointments and upgrades to homes, such as wheelchair ramps, shower grips and other amenities designed to guard against falls. But not all MA plans are including these services, so check the fine print carefully as you decide.
In recent days, consumer advocates have been warning that some of the prices posted on Medicare's Plan Finder website, particularly for prescription drugs, are incorrect. Beneficiaries enrolling in Part D plans should double-check the prices they are seeing on Medicare.gov. with the insurers whose plans they are considering. The Plan Finder had its first major overhaul this year in a decade.
Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a blog post last week that if consumers find that the premium or copay costs for the plan they selected were incorrect on the Medicare website, they will be allowed to switch to another plan, even after open enrollment ends. CMS officials advised beneficiaries to call 800-MEDICARE (633-4227) at any time during the coming year and ask for a Special Enrollment Period so they can change plans if they “believe they made the wrong plan choice because of inaccurate or misleading information."
There are a variety of ways you can get personalized help as you make your way through the open-enrollment process. You can use the Medicare.gov online chat feature throughout open enrollment. The Medicare hotline, 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You may also call your local State Health Insurance and Assistance Program (SHIP) to speak with a Medicare counselor, although many SHIPs are advising that their counselors will be very busy and consumers should not wait until the last minute to get assistance.