As a senior or another individual who qualifies for Medicare, it’s important to pay attention to any changes to the program for the upcoming year. Changes could affect your ability to get coverage or the cost of coverage available to you.
Usually, the government increases deductibles and premiums based on the cost of living index each year. 2022 is no different. In this article, we’ll explain what Medicare is and what to expect for this year.
What Is Medicare?
Medicare is a health insurance program that is available to all seniors who are age 65 or older or who don’t meet the age requirement but have a disability that allows them to collect SSDI. There are three separate parts to the Medicare program, including Part A, Part B, and Part D. 
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A is considered hospital insurance. It covers any inpatient hospital stays, nursing home stays, hospice care, and some types of home health care. There are usually no required monthly premiums for individuals with Medicare Part A, as long as you or your spouse paid Medicare taxes at some point during your career. 
If you don’t meet the requirements for free Medicare Part A, you can purchase the coverage. Premiums vary depending on how long you worked and paid Medicare taxes. 
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B provides coverage for preventative care, doctor’s visits, and medical supplies. It also covers outpatient care and ambulatory services. In some cases, it may provide coverage for certain prescription drugs. To obtain this coverage, you’ll need to pay a monthly premium — it is not available for free. 
Individuals who decide not to sign up for Medicare Part B at age 65 but then need it may have to pay a penalty for their coverage. This penalty can be up to 10% of the standard premium for each year that you did not have Medicare Part B coverage. You’ll pay this penalty each month for life. 
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D is used to pay for prescription drugs that you require to manage your medical conditions. To obtain Medicare Part D, you’ll need to join a Medicare-approved plan that offers drug coverage. Usually, you’ll find these plans through a private insurer. 
Like with Medicare Part B, there is a penalty associated with signing up for Medicare Part D late. To avoid the penalty, make sure to sign up for the program as soon as you are eligible!
You may think you won’t need prescription drug coverage or can handle the out-of-pocket costs on your own. However, older people have a greater chance of developing chronic conditions. You don’t want to be paying excess fees on top of trying to take care of yourself. 
What Changes Are Coming to Medicare in 2022?
There are several changes that you can expect for Medicare in 2022. These include increased premiums and deductibles, improved mental health coverage, and additional assistance with insulin costs. 
While most people don’t have to pay for Medicare Part A as long as they have a history of working at least ten years and paying Medicare taxes, Medicare Part B is a different story.
Individuals who purchase Medicare Part B will have a premium of at least $170.10 per month, which has increased by $21.60 from 2021. This year’s increase is the largest increase ever applied to Medicare Part B. 
The increased premium was instituted for several different reasons, including rising health care costs attributed to COVID-19 and to potentially cover a new Alzheimer’s drug, known as Aduhelm.
Aduhelm is the first pharmaceutical that has the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Currently, the drug is priced at $56,000, but the company has reduced the cost to $28,200. 
In addition to rising premiums, deductibles have gone up for 2022. Patients who are hospitalized under Medicare Part A are expected to pay $1,556 for each hospital visit, an amount that has increased by $72 since 2021. Medicare Part B’s deductible is now $233, an increase of $30. 
The deductibles under Medicare Part D vary since they are set by private insurers and depend on the plan selected. However, the federal government does set a limit on the deductible for Medicare Part D. That amount is $480 for 2022. 
Assistance with Insulin
Those individuals who are living with diabetes will appreciate the enhanced support for insulin available under Medicare Part D. Some insulins will now be capped at $35 per month, which can be a significant saving for those who need this life-saving drug. 
Increased Support for Mental Health
The years of lockdowns, an ongoing pandemic, civil unrest, rising inflation, and a new war between Ukraine and Russia have left many people struggling with their mental health.
To provide better support to older individuals and those with disabilities, the Medicare agency is strongly advocating for better access to mental telehealth services. 
Mental telehealth services allow individuals to speak with a psychologist, counselor, or psychiatrist without leaving their homes. This setup reduces the chance of catching COVID-19 for people who are already at risk. It also allows them to obtain the services they need without having to schedule appointments weeks in advance.
In addition, Medicare will now pay for mental health visits conducted by rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers. 
Signing Up for Medicare
Individuals who rely on Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D should expect some changes to the costs of their medical treatment. An increase in premiums and deductibles will result in more out-of-pocket costs.
However, there are some silver linings to the changes implemented this year. These include the capped costs for some insulin and better access to mental health treatment.
If you are turning 65 soon and will qualify for Medicare, make sure that you immediately sign up for the program rather than waiting. Doing so will eliminate any chances of penalties for signing up late and can help you from surprise bills should you need care.