Hot dog! We finally have a Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment increase! Social Security announced that beneficiaries should receive a whopping 2% increase for 2018. If you are receiving $1,500/mo, that equates to a $30 monthly increase. But hold the phone…will you REALLY see that entire increase in your check? Don’t spend all that money yet!
Many Social Security beneficiaries may not receive their raise!
About 70% of people who are receiving both Medicare and Social Security, have been protected from rising Medicare Part B increases by something called the “hold harmless” clause. Basically, the ‘hold harmless’ clause ensures that existing Medicare members don’t see their Part B premiums increase more than their Social Security COLA raise. Therefore, Social Security’s 2017 raise of 0.3%, kept Part B premiums from rising by more than 0.3% in 2017 for this group of beneficiaries.
2018 Part B premiums haven’t been announced yet but aren’t expected to increase much higher than 2017. Those who’ve been protected by ‘hold harmless’ could see some, or all, of their raise gobbled up by Medicare Part B in order to “catch them up” for the lower premiums they’ve paid in recent years.
Today begins Medicare Open Enrollment – Oct 15th – Dec 7th. This is the time to change Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) and Part D (Part D Plans). All plans seem to change something, especially the drug formulary. Look at your ANOC (Annual Notice of Change) booklet that you recently received (or call your Plan if you haven’t received it yet). The first few pages will tell you what is changing in your Plan for the next year. There are also new Plans out for 2018 and you need to research to see if there is another Plan that may offer you better benefits. Many Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra benefits like chiropractic, acupuncture, vision, hearing, dental or gym memberships. If you feel your Plan is good for you next year, there is nothing to do. It will simply roll over.
If you have a loved one that is on Medicare, please help them. Many times, they stay on the same Plan because they just don’t know how to research. You can make a huge difference in their lives by getting them to call us!
Be aware of the Star Ratings of the Plans also. Medicare gives an overall rating of the Plan’s quality and performance for the types of services each plan offers. For plans covering health services, this is an overall rating for the quality of many medical/health care services that fall into 4 and 5 different categories. From my experience, there is a reason a Plan gets a low rating so BEWARE!
This is also the time for those that are uninsurable to possibly obtain ‘guaranteed issue‘ into a MediGap supplement plan. If ANY benefit in your Medicare Advantage Plan increased by 15% or was eliminated, you can go back to original Medicare (Part A & B) and obtain a stand alone Part D Plan (for drugs). Being on this option (with a MediGap plan) gives you the choice to see any Provider that accepts Medicare, no referral needed. It comes in handy if you want to go to a skilled nursing facility of your choice or see a Provider out of town.
You can do your own research by going to Medicare.gov or reach out to an independent insurance agent such as ourselves. We conduct a thorough search for you and will let you know if your Plan is still the better Plan for you next year. And there is no extra charge for our services. How do we get paid? If another Plan is better and we’re able to place the application for you, we receive a commission from the insurance company. Make sure the person you are dealing with is REALLY independent and represents MANY companies. We have come across many agents that claim they are independent and they are however, they are only Medicare certified with one or two companies. At Hoffman Insurance, we are contracted with over 40 companies and Medicare certified with 13 carriers. You’re best interest is our interest, whether we get compensated or not. Reach out to us early because it gets quite busy during the last week of Open Enrollment!