Since the year 2000, the Medicare enrollment numbers have doubled in size. According to studies, as of 2020, there are roughly 63 million people enrolled in Medicare (that’s over 18% of the population). And it’s continuing to grow year over year with a projection to hit around 79 million by 2030 – that’s some major growth. But as for 2022, you can expect some changes to be implemented in the form of benefits, plans, and updates. Let’s look at these 6 Medicare outlooks for 2022 and beyond.
Additional benefits to be added to Medicare
To remind readers Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans are related but there are basic differences. Medicare is provided by the government while Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C Plans, are bundled solutions that include Parts A, B, and D. Medicare Advantage plans are becoming more popular with Medicare beneficiaries as they become more competitive. The $0 premium and “extras” like dental and vision, draw more people to Medicare Advantage plans.
With the increase of popularity, physicians increasingly are participating in these plans as ‘in-network’ doctors. Many carriers have a plan that allows beneficiaries to go outside of the network with higher co-pays. Medicare Advantage plans are also attractive to individuals who have money in an HSA (Health Savings Accounts). It gives them an opportunity to pay no premium and to use the HSA dollars for their copays and deductibles.
Medicare Advantage plan prices will offer consistent premiums
Medicare is a federal program, which provides cost-effective healthcare solutions for beneficiaries over the age of 65. However, there is increasing competition among Medicare private insurers, with many offering $0 premiums. So, while in the past there were only a select few private sector healthcare Medicare plans, now there can be as many as 25 in any single service area.
Medicare Part B premiums go up every single year. This is based on more people eligible for Social Security, and rising healthcare costs, among other factors.
Dental benefits update
Rumors were stirring that dental benefits were going to be provided by the federal Medicare program. However, Medicare will not include any dental benefits. Most dentists are not in-network with major dental insurance companies; they surely will not be in-network with the low Medicare reimbursements. Some Medicare Advantage plans will continue to include dental options – as a no cost-benefit, or via a rider. We would expect that they will continue to include dental benefits as it is one of the driving forces that get beneficiaries to enroll in an insurance company’s plan.
Patient care quality to improve
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and star rating programs are an incentive to provide a better quality of care for patients. The ACA implemented lower costs for Medicare prescription drug costs in the coverage gap, higher standards of care, and increasing services for Medicare users, while the star rating program rewards service providers and insurance carriers for certain services and standards of care. All in all, these changes lead to the assumption that patient care quality will improve for beneficiaries.
Medicare IRMAA changes
Medicare IRMAA is the amount high-income earners pay in addition to their Part B and D premiums. This only applies to those who make over a certain income and report it on their income tax from two years prior. The Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) is on top of the Medicare premium and will continue to rise for high-income earners. The amounts will get larger each year as more beneficiaries enter the Medicare system. Medicare cannot afford to have the number of people enrolled without charging this higher premium.
Increase in Medicare enrollment
Considering some good news about additional benefits and rewards, and significant expansion of health insurance coverage, we expect 2022 to be another record year for Medicare Advantage enrollment growth. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the median premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be $19 per month in 2022. CMS also reports that Medicare Advantage enrollment will reach 29.5 million next year, up from 27.8 million in September 2021.
As we alluded to in the introduction, year over year Medicare enrollment has increased due to the growing population of beneficiaries over the age of 65. According to the US census, the population of those 65 and older will grow substantially from now to 2030, approximately up to 19% of the population. With this, the enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans will also increase, poised to offer low-cost premiums and increasing benefits. This trend will likely continue as we begin 2022.
Essentially, if you have Medicare or will be enrolling, you have plenty to look forward to. This includes:
- Low premium plans with exciting extras
- Patient care quality improvement
- Continual plan updates and changes
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