Medicare Benefits For Seniors Will Improve in 2019
Medicare programs in general get favorable ratings from seniors citizens and in 2019 benefit programs will get even better. Specifically, Medicare is making several improvements. Some of the changes will affect all beneficiaries while others will apply just to individuals who select Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare: Therapy Cap Is Removed
Beneficiaries will no longer have to pay the full cost of outpatient therapies such as physical, speech, or occupational services. Congress recently repealed this cap which had limited the coverage available to Medicare members.
Medicare: Easier to Understand Instructions
The handbook that members receive every year is much improved. For example, it now includes checklists and flowcharts to make it easier to decide on coverage. In addition, the new ‘wizard’ will help members compare out-of-pocket costs and coverage options between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
Medicare: Telemedicine Is Here To Stay
Telemedicine is one of the great additions to medical care in the last 5 years. This is especially true for the health of senior citizens. Now, these telehealth programs further expand to let patients confer with a doctor or nurse via telephone or the internet. In 2019, this program will also cover services for people with end-stage renal disease and during treatments for a stroke.
Medicare: Support For The Home-bound
In January, Advantage plans will include coverage for meals to be delivered to the home and transportation to the doctor’s office.
Furthermore, safety features in the home, such as bathroom grab bars and wheelchair ramps will be included for full coverage. All that is necessary, is for the medical provider to recommend this for coverage.
Medicare: In Home Assistance
Advantage plans in 2019 also will pay for home health aides. This will improve the quality of life and help with their daily activities, such as meals, personal care, and getting dressed. This new benefit expands the current health related in-home services.
Medicare: Removing The “Donut Hole”
An expensive element of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit requires members with high prescription costs to pay more for their medicines after they reach a certain level of spending in one year.
This creates a coverage gap, also called the “donut hole.” Then, after a beneficiary’s out-of-pocket spending reaches a second threshold, they enter catastrophic coverage and pay substantially less.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this “donut hole” was scheduled to close only in 2020. But Congress accelerate the closure to 2019 to cover brand name drugs. This will give members substantial savings. the spending bill Congress passed in March will close the donut hole for brand-name drugs in 2019.
The “donut-hole” for generic drugs will close in 2020.