Meanwhile, Medicare, like Social Security, is subject to annual changes. In some cases, such as higher out-of-pocket expenses, these changes can be detrimental. However, here are three positive Medicare changes to look forward to in 2023.
1. A less stringent standard Premium for Part B
Part A of Medicare, which covers hospital care, is generally free to enrollees. However, Part B, which covers outpatient care, is not free.
Part B has a standard monthly premium that is deducted directly from Social Security benefits for seniors who are enrolled in both programs. The standard Medicare Part B premium in 2022 was $170.10 per month. This year, however, the standard premium has been reduced to $164.90, allowing enrollees to save an additional $5.20.
To be clear, these are the standard Medicare Part B premiums. Higher earners who are subject to Part B surcharges as a result of their income may end up paying significantly more.
However, the cost of Medicare Part B rises every year. It has dropped for the first time in a long time, which should provide some relief to seniors at a time when inflation remains high.
Furthermore, because the cost of Part B is decreasing, seniors on Social Security will not have to worry about higher Part B premiums eating into their 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment. This should put them in a better position to gain purchasing power, which many Social Security recipients struggled with in 2022.
2. Reduced Part B deductible
Enrollees in Medicare Part B must pay an annual deductible before they are subject to co-insurance alone. The annual Part B deductible in 2022 was $233. This year, it has dropped to $226.
3. Reduced medication costs
Medication costs can be a huge burden for seniors, especially those who don't have much in the way of savings and rely heavily on Social Security benefits. As of January 1, Medicare enrollees who take insulin will have their out-of-pocket costs for a one-month supply of covered insulin products capped at $35 thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition, insulin will not be subject to Part D deductibles.
Furthermore, Medicare enrollees' vaccine costs may be reduced. Beginning on January 1, enrollees with Part D prescription coverage may be eligible for free shingles and tetanus-diphtheria-whooping-cough vaccines.
It's not all bad news.
Medicare changes can frequently leave seniors with higher costs. Previous Part B increases have frequently resulted in Social Security recipients not getting as much out of their cost-of-living adjustments as they could.
However, because of these and other Medicare changes, some seniors may see a reduction in their healthcare costs this year. And, at a time when so many people are feeling the effects of soaring inflation, that's a very good thing.
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