Health Premiums Could Wipe Out Social Security Boost; Medicare Enrollment Begins
Some popular prescription drug plans face double-digit premium increases.
The Associated Press/USA Today: Social Security Benefits To Rise 1% To 2% In 2013
Social Security recipients shouldn't expect a big increase in monthly benefits come January. Preliminary figures show the annual benefit boost will be between 1% and 2%, which would be among the lowest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. ... The size of the increase will be official Tuesday, when the government releases inflation figures for September. ... Some of next year's raise could be wiped out by higher Medicare premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments. The Medicare Part B premium, which covers doctor visits, is expected to rise about $7 per month for 2013, according to government projections (Ohlemacher, 10/14).
The Associated Press: Medicare: Some Prescription Plans Are Set To Bump Up Rates
Millions of seniors enrolled in some of the most popular Medicare prescription drug plans face double-digit premium hikes next year if they don't shop for a better deal, says a private firm that analyzes the highly competitive market. Seven of the top 10 prescription plans are raising their premiums 11 to 23 percent, according to a report in September by Avalere Health (Alonso-Zaldiva, 10/12).
The Wall Street Journal: Shopping for Medicare
It's shopping time for Medicare beneficiaries. For the second year, the federal program is starting its annual open-enrollment period earlier in the fall—running from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. ... consulting firm Avalere Health found that among the 10 most popular drug plans, seven will have premiums rise by a double-digit percentage, with the increases as high as 23%. Avalere also says there will be some new low-cost options for seniors, including a UnitedHealthcare offering with premiums averaging just $15 a month (Mathews, 10/13).
MarketWatch: Medicare Open-Enrollment: Find The Right Drug Plan
[T]his time around, experts say the stakes are greater than in previous years – particularly for retirees who rely heavily on prescription drugs. Higher premiums in certain plans, as well as changes to their coverage, could lead to significantly higher out-of-pocket costs for some beneficiaries who stick with their current option (Marte, 10/13).
Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Enrollment Season Opens For Medicare Advantage Plans
Today, Medicare beneficiaries can begin choosing their drug and medical coverage for 2013, and most seniors are expected to stick with the same policies they have already, despite price changes and a rating system that shows some plans may be better than others (Jaffe, 10/15).
CQ HealthBeat: More Medicare Private Plans Reaching For The Stars, CMS Reports
Officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Friday that additional highly rated Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans will be available to enrollees when open enrollment for Medicare begins on Monday. Jonathan Blum, Medicare director, said that in 2012, people enrolled in Medicare had access to 106 four- or five-star Medicare Advantage plans; in 2013, there will be 127 insurance plans to choose from. The plans are private alternatives to fee-for-service Medicare and enrollment in them has been growing steadily (Norman, 10/12).
Detroit Free Press: Medicare Changes: What You Need To Know This Year
The fine print and the jargon and the tiny language changes -- it's all stuff that makes choosing the right Medicare plan maddening. But a beefed-up federal five-star rating system for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans may make the choice a whole lot easier this year. The new enrollment period opens Monday for beneficiaries of Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans. The annual eight-week window allows newly minted seniors -- Michigan's baby boomers who turned 65 this past year -- to sign up for policies and for current beneficiaries to reassess their current policies (Erb, 10/14).
In other open-enrollment news -
Miami Herald: Marketing Medical Insurance To Individuals
This time of year is a hectic, marketing-intensive period for Florida Blue and other insurers that sell Medicare policies. During the federal program’s annual election period, this year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, seniors can switch to a new underwriter of Medicare policies for their 2013 coverage. So, insurers are anxiously courting the Medicare population to keep current policyholders and add new ones...That kind of consumer marketing may become much more common in the under-65 market as healthcare reform unfolds, especially the individual mandate to obtain medical insurance or pay a penalty, starting in 2014. So next year, visitor traffic at the Florida Blue Centers in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other locations around the state may increase substantially to include not only Medicare beneficiaries but also younger people shopping for individual health insurance (Seemuth, 10/14).