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Four 2019 Medicare changes you should know


The beginning of 2019 has ushered in several very critical changes to the Medicare landscape. Some changes will affect all Medicare beneficiaries while others will only impact those who choose Medicare Advantage plans.

The first change is that Medicare Advantage now has its own open enrollment period, from January 1 – March 31, 2019. For those that selected a Medicare Advantage plan during the 2018 enrollment period, they now have a three-month trial period to change their selection.

“This policy change allows enrollees to test the plan to ensure it best meets their needs,” said Jerold Johnson, president of Senior Financial Group. “If enrollees aren’t satisfied, they can switch to another Medicare Advantage plan or original Medicare, as long as they do so by March 31, 2019.”

Johnson adds that Medicare Advantage plans are now covering supplemental benefits they weren’t previously covering. “This year insurance companies are offering a host of new and expanded benefits, including meal delivery after a hospital stay, transportation to providers, and in-home care.”

There are also new LIS (Low-Income Subsidy) plans for Medicare Prescription drug coverage designed for people living in the Knoxville area that could be very beneficial for a person meeting the criteria.

According to Johnson, another change to be aware of is to the “donut hole” coverage gap. It will partially close this year, as out-of-pocket costs on brand name drugs are dropping to 25% and 37% for generics. It is important to note that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the coverage gap (donut hole) is scheduled to completely close in 2020.

The fourth change in 2019 is that beneficiaries of original Medicare won’t have to pay the full cost of outpatient physical, speech or occupational therapy because Congress permanently repealed the cap that has historically limited coverage of those services. The amount of benefit allowed per patient will be determined by the patient’s functional limit or progress versus capping the benefit at a specific dollar amount.

“These changes will help to improve both healthcare options and flexibility for beneficiaries,” said Johnson. “It’s important for everyone to understand these changes and how they may impact their plans moving forward.”

For more information on Senior Financial Group, visit sfgmedicare.com.

Senior Financial Group (SFG), based in Knoxville, Tenn., is an independent health insurance agency. SFG helps families make informed decisions about their Medicare coverage, including Medicare Advantage and Supplements. Benefit specialists provide free consultations and make in-home visits so clients get the best individual plans for their needs.

Published March 19, 2019






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