What You Can Expect From Medicare In 2018

Question: What are the Medicare costs for 2018 & COLA adjustment to Social Security for 2018?

Answer: Well, this year we have interesting information to report.

This year some costs held steady for much of Medicare. Social Security made a 2 percent Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA), so that all of those on Social Security will see their gross monthly Social Security Benefits increase, but they may not see an increase in their net payment. We talked about this change a few weeks ago. Today I mostly will concentrate on the Medicare changes.

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did NOT increase the Medicare Part B premium. The 2018 rate for Medicare Part B is $134. This Medicare Part B rate is the same as the 2017 rate, but some individuals were not paying that much due to previous years with no COLA to the Social Security Benefit. For those individuals who are collecting Social Security Benefits AND enrolled in Medicare Part B AND paying a rate lower than $134, your rate will increase, but the COLA will cover that. That is because there is a “Hold Harmless” clause in the Social Security law that protects anyone collecting Social Security and paying the regular Medicare Part B premium out of their Social Security payment. This protection states those individuals cannot see a reduction in their NET Social Security due to an increase in their Part B premium. This means for the last couple of years, most Americans did not see an increase in their Medicare Part B premium. This year’s COLA hopefully will correct that situation for most seniors.

For those individuals paying a higher Medicare Part B rate due to an income adjusted higher premium for Part B, they will also see an increase in their higher Medicare Part D rate. The individuals who pay a higher premium for Medicare Part B and Part D are individuals who make more than $85,000 (couples over $170,000). For actual figures on this income adjusted rate, see information on www.medicare.gov, or call 1-800-medicare, or call me and I will mail you a copy of those rates. This is called the IRMAA.

So part of your answer is you may or may not see an increase in your Social Security Benefits deposited into your bank account, depending on your situation.

Now on to changes for 2018 for Medicare: Most Americans do not pay any premium for Medicare Part A-Hospitalization. Medicare A is free if you or your spouse have worked 40 Quarters (ten years). If you do have to pay a premium for Part A, it will cost up to $422 monthly.

The 2018 Medicare Part B premium will stay at $134. This is the premium that comes out of your Social Security Benefit each month. For those individuals who don’t collect Social Security Benefits this is paid in a quarterly bill.

The Medicare Part A cost sharing changed for 2018. The Medicare Part A Hospital Deductible increased to $1,340 for each hospitalization in 2018. For those individuals who are hospitalized for longer than 60 days, there are additional co-insurance costs. Day 61 to 90 costs $335 per day, and day 91 to 150 is $670 per day. After 150 days you would pay all costs. This extended hospital stay rarely happens anymore.

For those individuals who are hospitalized for more than three days and then go to a Skilled Nursing Facility for a Rehabilitation stay, Medicare pays the first 20 days in full, days 21 to 100 have a cost share. The 2018 cost share for those 80 days is $167.50 per day.

The Medicare Part B Annual Medical Deductible stays at $183. After the deductible, Medicare covers 80 percent of approved charges and you would pay 20 percent of approved charges.

Most individuals have additional insurance that helps to cover these deductible and co-insurance costs. Many individuals have Medicare Advantage Plans, which have an entirely different cost structure for these services.

I was so excited to see this information released a little earlier than last year. Hopefully that will help you plan for your 2018 expenses.

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail her at janells@lutheran-jamestown.org.