Looking ahead to 2017: A Guide to Open Enrollment [Part 5]

December 12, 2016

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by: The My Medicare Matters Team

This article is the fifth installment in our 2016 “Preparing for Open Enrollment” series. To stay up-to-date on the latest Open Enrollment blog posts, subscribe to our mailing list. For a complete overview of Open Enrollment, check out our “Guide to Open Enrollment” page.

Read the first OEP blog post: “Watch Your Mailbox: Preparing for Open Enrollment [Part 1] »

Read the second OEP blog post: “Gather Your Things: Preparing for Open Enrollment [Part 2] »

Read the third OEP blog post: “Go Shopping: Preparing for Open Enrollment [Part 3] »

Read the fourth OEP blog post: “Seek Expert Advice: A Guide to Open Enrollment [Part 4] »

Now that the Medicare Open Enrollment Period period has come to a close (and we near the end of 2016) it’s important to look ahead to the future and evaluate some changes and opportunities for Medicare in 2017. Here are some important ones to keep in mind:

  1. Original Medicare cost-sharing will increase in 2017.* The Medicare Part B deductible will increase from $166 to $183. This is the amount you pay for outpatient services before Medicare helps pay. The Medicare Part A deductible will increase from $1,288 to $1,316 per benefit period. A benefit period begins when you are admitted to the hospital and ends when you are out of the hospital or skilled nursing facility for 60 consecutive days in a row. If you have more than one inpatient hospital stay in 2017, you may have to pay the Part A deductible more than once. The copayments per day for long hospitalizations (more than 60 days) and skilled nursing facility care (more than 20 days) will also increase.
  2. Original Medicare premiums will increase as well.* While increases are not uncommon, an increase with a small Cost of Living Adjustment (just 0.3%) in your Social Security benefit check results in little change to your bottom line. For beneficiaries that already had their premiums taken out of their SS check in Nov. and Dec. 2016, this will mean paying a little more each month vs. the full premium of $134.00. You should receive a statement in your my Social Security account or by mail outlining the exact amount of your monthly premium for 2017.
  3. If you chose a new Medicare prescription drug plan during Open Enrollment and your new plan doesn’t cover your existing medications, you have the right to a transitional fill of the covered medication(s) from your old plan. A transitional fill is only available one time. After you receive said medication, you should work with your prescriber to switch to a similar drug that is covered under your new plan, or request a “formulary exception” and ask your plan to pay for your current medications all year.
  4. Generally, the Medicare plan you start the year with will be the one you end the year with. However, there are some life changes that allow you to change Medicare plans outside the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (Oct. 15-Dec.7). For example, moving to a new area, your plan no longer being available, moving back to the U.S. from overseas, losing employer coverage or Medicaid, and receiving Extra Help are all reasons you might receive a Special Enrollment Period to change plans outside of the Open Enrollment period.
  5. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2017 and decide that you no longer like it, you should know about the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period from January 1st to February 14. During this time, you have an opportunity to drop your Medicare Advantage plan, return to Original Medicare, and join a Part D drug plan (if needed).

While the Medicare Open Enrollment Period has come to an end, your job of remaining informed about Medicare changes in 2017 has just begun. We look forward to hearing from you in the New Year!

*Note: If you have a Medigap, or Medicare Supplemental Policy, some of these costs may be paid by your policy. And if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will receive all Medicare covered services but your cost-sharing can vary from the deductibles and copayments listed above. Be sure to check with your plan for specific details.