Medicare 2011 – Change You Can Believe In

The new year brings changes for seniors with Medicare and supplemental protection. The media and Washington want you to believe change is good, it all comes at a price.

There is nothing free in life, and that includes Medicare and Medicare supplement insurance plans.

For the second year in a row, seniors on Social Security are not getting a cost of living adjustment (COLA) but your Medicare premiums and deductibles will go up.

Most people do not pay anything for Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) but your Part A deductible will increase to $1162 for the first 60 days per hospital confinement.

Your Medicare Part B premiums will increase to $115.40 per month and your Part B deductible goes up to $162 before Medicare pays anything.

If you have Medigap plan F your plan will absorb all of these costs. 

In addition to increased deductibles and Medicare premiums, expect Med supp premiums to rise as well. Most Medicare supplement plans will see increases of 10% or less. Some of the increase is due to medical care inflation, some due to increased liability caused by cost shifting away from Medicare to the Medicare beneficiary (which is then absorbed by the Med supp carrier), and some is due to Obamacare changes.

Most likely you have heard Andy Griffith talk about the new preventive care benefits that are part of Obamacrap. With the new year comes a host of preventive services, including end of life counseling, that are available at no charge to you.

I know this will come as a surprise, but the doctors are not giving away these services for free, and labs that perform tests and screenings are not donating their services either.

Someone has to pay for these free services.

Medicare (and taxpayers) will pay for some while other costs will be absorbed by the Med supp carriers. Here is the link to Medicare showing the new preventive services.

There is no free lunch in spite of what some will have you believe.

The other big news is what is happening with those who have Medicare Part D, the private insurance company prescription drug program. Beginning in 2011 your maximum out of pocket for deductibles, copay's and the donut hole is $4,550. Generics not covered by a copay will be discounted 7% while brand name drugs will have a 50% discount.

Even with the changes, many Georgia seniors save money by purchasing their prescription drugs via mailorder through pharmacy's such as Blue Sky Drugs.

There are fewer Part D plans than before, and premiums have increased for many plans due to Obamacrap shifting. Also, some drugs that were on the formulary last year may not be on the plan this year.

The Medicare "doc fix" which allows your Medicare doctor to continue reimbursement at current levels has been kicked down the road again, so the new Congress will have to decide if they are going to cut doctor reimbursement in 2011 creating more chaos or come up with a better way than the drama that has occurred every year for the last dozen when doc's make changes to offset a major cut in their reimbursement.

So the short view of Medicare 2011 is this.

Premiums for Medicare are higher than before as are Medicare deductibles. Med supp premiums will rise as well but in most cases not as much as traditional health insurance premiums for those under age 65. Medicare Part D plans will generally cover less and charge more and the same can be said for Medicare Advantage plans.

Those with original Medicare plus a good Medigap plan (such as F, G or N) will have considerably less out of pocket than those who opted for the lower premium Medicare Advantage plans. In many cases, the out of pocket difference is substantial with Medicare Advantage plans leaving you holding the bag for $3,000 – $5,000 or more in unpaid medical bills.

There is no free lunch.

Georgia Insurance Shop and Georgia Med Supp continue to have the lowest premiums on Medigap plans in the state of Georgia. Our rates usually are better than AARP or Blue Cross, and unlike Medicare Advantage plans, you can change Medicare supplement plans at any time. Ask for a comparison of competitive Medigap plans in your area.


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