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With just a few weeks left until Medicare open enrollment ends, the federal government has announced that some common costs for Medicare beneficiaries will rise in 2018. These costs include hospital coinsurance and deductibles for Medicare Part A.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its official Medicare website, Medicare.gov, often use a lingo of their own. So, before we talk dollar amounts for these costs, let’s review how Medicare.gov defines some key terms:
- Coinsurance: An amount you may be required to pay as your share of the cost for services after you pay any deductibles. It is usually a percentage, such as 20 percent.
- Deductible: The amount you must pay for health care or prescriptions before your insurance begins to pay.
- Premium: The periodic payment to an insurer for health or prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Part A costs
Types of care covered by Medicare Part A — which Medicare.gov also calls “hospital insurance” — include:
- Inpatient hospital services
- Skilled nursing facility services
- Some home health services
The vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries — about 99 percent, according to HHS — don’t have to pay a premium for their Part A coverage. It’s premium-free for folks who worked — and thus had Medicare taxes withheld from their paycheck — for a certain amount of time.
Beneficiaries will see other costs increase, though. They include:
- Part A annual inpatient hospital deductible: $1,340 per benefit period (up $24)
- Part A daily hospital coinsurance for days 61-90: $335 (up $6)
The inpatient hospital deductible is paid by beneficiaries admitted to the hospital as inpatients. It covers the first 60 days of such hospitalizations. There is no coinsurance during that time. For folks hospitalized for 61 to 90 days, however, there is a daily coinsurance for each day after their 60th day in the hospital.
Medicare Part B costs
Types of care covered by Medicare Part B, which Medicare also calls “medical insurance,” include:
- Physician services
- Outpatient hospital services
- Certain home health services
- Durable medical equipment
For many Medicare beneficiaries, the cost of such care will be the same in 2018. These expenses include the:
- Part B standard monthly premium: $134
- Part B annual deductible: $183
The standard premium is for individual federal income tax filers with a taxable income of up to $85,000 and joint filers with an income of up to $170,000.
Folks with more income pay higher premiums of anywhere from $187.50 to $428.60, depending on their income. See Medicare.gov’s “Part B costs” page for a chart of premiums by income level.
Overwhelmed by Medicare?
Medicare.gov is full of so much information, often written in federal government lingo, that it can feel more overwhelming than helpful. So, know that third-party help is out there. As we note in “7 Things You Need to Know About Medicare“:
- One free option is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, for your state or territory. Federal grants fund these programs, which offer counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. To learn more about them, visit the national SHIP website.
- Another option is to use one of several services that, for a fee, will do the heavy lifting for you. You’ll find an example in our Solutions Center: Just click on the “Medicare Assistance” button.
For more recent Medicare news, check out:
- “How Shopping Around Can Cut the Cost of Your Medicare Plan“
- “Beware Medicare Penalties for Late Enrollment“
- “How a Medicare-Covered Hospital Stay Could Cost You Thousands“
Keep in mind that Medicare open enrollment ends on Dec. 7.
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