Last updated: December 25. 2013 5:56PM - 1315 Views
By - dbroyles@civitasmedia.com

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Local Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) Coordinator Extension Carmen Long is advising Medicare Part A and B recipients to be aware of upcoming changes in these plans.

“A lot of our seniors have been in a situation where they were asked to make so many decisions in their plans, I imagine this is a welcome change,” said Long. “One of the positives about this is any changes have already been decided for them. However, it is still important Medicare beneficiaries understand how they will be affected by these changes in the coming year.”

Long explained that each year the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid evaluate the numbers for Medicare Parts A and B to determine if changes need to be made to deductibles, co insurances and out of pocket amounts.

“This is an opportunity for people to be more informed so they know what their costs will be for traditional medicare,” Long said.

She said there are no changes in 2014 to the premium or deductible for Part B, Medical insurance. Information provided by SHIIP indicates the premium will stay at $104.90 monthly for most and premiums will be higher for people with incomes higher than $85,000 a year. Part B’s remains $147 per year.

Long also said there will be a change to the coinsurance for Outpatient Mental Health Services. In 2014, Medicare beneficiaries will pay 20 percent of the Medicare approved cost after the deductible. The cost this year was 35 percent.

Under Part A, hospitalization costs for Medicare beneficiaries will increase next year. For example, the deductible for this year for the first 60 days is $1,184 and the deductible charge next year is $1,216.

Long said the premium for Medicare Part A will not change for eligible beneficiaries while the premium for Part A will be $426 per month for those who worked fewer than 30 quarters and $234 per month for those who worked between 30 and 40 quarters. Information from SHIIP indicates these amounts are a decrease from the previous year’s charges.

“There have been changes in the Medicare supplemental plans K and L and Plan F Prime,” said Long. “Most people in our area are picking the F and G plans which work better for them.”

Long recommended those interested may find information on the web site under the medical supplemental comparison area.

“The North Carolina Department of Insurance web site also has a supplemental plan chart which will pull up all the plans in a category who are licensed to also tell the premiums and details such as fees for the plans. “

She said seniors and their caregivers could benefit from using the Medicare supplemental premium companion database as well. She reminded beneficiaries supplements work with traditional Medicare Parts A or B and only pick up the costs A and B don’t covers for health care and do not pertain to prescription drug costs.”

“There can be large differences in premiums for the same coverage in many cases,” Long said. “There may be difference in customer service but as far as the services provided there’s not a difference in many cases. It pays to investigate and find a plan that works for you.”

Long said the out of pocket limit for Plan K has increased from $4,800 t44,940 and the out of pocket for Plan L has increased from $2,400 to $2,470. The deductible for the Plan F Prime is increasing slightly from $2,110 to $2140.

SHIIP is a division of the North Carolina Department of Insurance and can help answer any question about Medicare costs and coverage over the phone or in person. Trained SHIIP counselors are available for free, unbiased counseling appointments in all 100 North Carolina Counties. Interested persons may contact SHIIP at 1-800-443-9354 or visit www.ncshiip.com.

Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@civitasmedia.com or 336-719-1952.

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