Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year? Was one of them to save more money? That’s not an uncommon goal for many of us, and we want you to get ahead this year. Today, we’re going to review a few things you can do to save money on Medicare in 2024!
Reduce Your Medicare Premiums
Medicare premiums tend to go up every year. This year, we saw an increase in the Part B premium, which is a standard expense for all Medicare beneficiaries. While there is a standard amount set, the Part B premium is also influenced by your income level. There are a few ways to potentially lower your Medicare premiums.
First, report changes to your income. The Medicare program looks at your income from two years prior to determine your current Part B premium. Beneficiaries with high incomes will pay IRMAA, the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount. If your income has changed drastically in the last two years, you can appeal IRMAA.
You should also take advantage of any enrollment periods throughout the year. We just finished the Annual Election Period, which is probably the most important time of year for beneficiaries. It allows you to review your Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D prescription drug plans and make changes to them for the following year. If you missed AEP in 2023, be sure to mark it on your calendar for 2024.
Enroll in Supplemental Coverage
Supplemental coverage can come in several forms, but when most people hear the word “supplemental” in the Medicare world, they think of Medicare Supplements, also known as Medigap plans. These plans work to fill in the gaps in Original Medicare (Parts A and B) by covering out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
Medicare Supplements require a monthly premium, but they’ll save you money each time you need a medical service. Plus, they offer predictable coverage that allows you to set a budget for the year. For example, if you have Medigap Plan G, your only out-of-pocket cost is the Part B deductible. All other approved costs are completely covered by the plan.
You may also consider an alternative route by choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans have lower monthly premiums than Medigap plans, but more out-of-pocket costs, depending on what services you need. Be sure to consider both options before enrolling in Medicare.
In addition, you may want to consider enrolling in supplemental policies based on your needs. You might want to look at dental insurance, long-term care insurance, or cancer plans. Again, all these will require monthly premiums but will save you money if you need them. Work with your advisor to create an insurance portfolio that’s right for you.
Check Eligibility for Medicare Savings Programs
Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) are designed to assist those with limited income and resources by paying for Medicare premiums and, in some cases, covering deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Understanding and applying for these programs can lead to substantial savings. Here are the main types of MSPs:
Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB) Program: This program helps pay for Part A and Part B premiums, along with deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. Eligibility is based on income and resource limits set by your state.
Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) Program: The SLMB program helps pay for Part B premiums for individuals who have slightly higher income than those eligible for the QMB program.
Qualifying Individual (QI) Program: This program provides assistance for paying Part B premiums and is available on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to those who received assistance the previous year.
Contact your state’s Medicaid office or a Medicare advisor at Carolina Senior Benefits to understand the application process, eligibility criteria, and required documentation.
Review Your Prescriptions
Prescription drug costs can make up a significant portion of healthcare expenses, especially for older adults. There are a few ways you can save on your prescription costs.
First, review your Part D plan every year during AEP. Drug formularies change yearly, and so might your medication needs. During AEP, review your plan and compare it with others to ensure it still offers the best value for your current prescriptions.
Second, use preferred pharmacies. Some Part D plans have agreements with certain pharmacies that offer medications at a lower cost. Make sure to fill your prescriptions at these preferred pharmacies to take advantage of these savings.
Third, try to use generic medications. Generic drugs are usually less expensive than their brand-name counterparts and are just as effective. Always ask your doctor if a generic version is available for your prescriptions.
Finally, there are a couple of programs that can assist with your pharmacy expenses. Look into pharmaceutical assistance programs, as well as the Extra Help program.
Maximize Your Benefits
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your Medicare coverage, it’s essential to understand and utilize all the benefits available to you. Maximizing your benefits can lead to better health outcomes and savings.
Medicare covers many preventive services at no cost to you, including flu shots, screenings for various health conditions, and annual wellness visits. Take advantage of these services to maintain your health and catch any issues early.
If you are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, you may have quite a few benefits you don’t know about. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits not found in Original Medicare, such as dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs. Review your plan’s details to understand what extra benefits are available and how to use them.
Review Your Medicare Plans
Healthcare needs and Medicare plans can change from year to year. It’s important to review your coverage annually to ensure it still meets your needs and is cost-effective.
Each year during the Medicare’s Annual Election Period (October 15 to December 7), review any changes in your Medicare Advantage or Part D plans. Insurers may alter premiums, deductibles, and networks. Consider any changes in your health status or medication needs. A plan that was suitable last year might not be the best fit this year if your healthcare needs have evolved.
Use the Medicare Plan Finder tool or consult with a Medicare advisor to compare plans based on current needs and costs. Look for changes in the formulary, provider networks, and out-of-pocket costs. If you find the process overwhelming, consider seeking help from expert advisors like the ones at Carolina Senior Benefits. We can provide personalized advice and help you navigate the various options.
Get Medicare Help from Carolina Senior Benefits
Don’t wait to make the most of your Medicare benefits. Contact Carolina Senior Benefits today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Medicare advisors. We’ll help you review your current plan, explore your options, and find the best ways to save money and improve your coverage in 2024. Together, we can ensure that your Medicare coverage is as efficient and beneficial as possible.