As a family caregiver, one of the things you may do for your aging relative is managing their medical bills. That means dealing with Medicare, a program you might not have had much experience with prior to becoming a caregiver.
Medicare has been around for 53 years, but that doesn’t mean it’s “same old same old” from one year to the next. In fact, there are several changes coming to Medicare in 2019 that family caregivers should know about. Below are some of those changes.
Closing the Drug Gap, or “Donut Hole”
Medicare Part D is coverage for prescription drugs. One of the more expensive aspects of the plan that affects some seniors is requiring those with high prescription drug costs to pay more for medication once their coverage has paid for a certain amount in a year. There is a gap in coverage, called a “donut hole,” that occurs between the time when the senior hits the spending cap and when they have spent so much that catastrophic coverage begins. This gap will be closed for brand-name drugs in 2019. In 2020, the gap will close for generic medications.
Changes to Open Enrollment
There will be an open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans from January 1 – March 31. During that time, seniors can choose to drop the Advantage plan and return to original Medicare coverage. They may also:
- Change to another Advantage plan.
- Enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D.
- Drop a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan.
Increased Accessed to Telehealth
Medicare coverage for consultations that take place over the phone or Internet have been expanding steadily. In 2019, people who are suffering from end-stage renal disease or who are being treated for a stroke will have access to telehealth services.
Improved Handbook and Other Information
Each year Medicare sends recipients a handbook to help them use their coverage. In 2019, the book will be improved to include:
- Checklists and flowcharts to aid with choosing the right program.
- The online Medicare Plan Finder will be easier to use.
- The online “coverage wizard” will help beneficiaries to better compare costs and coverages.
Therapy Cap Removed
In the past, coverage for speech, occupational, and physical therapy was limited for people on the original Medicare plan. Congress has removed the cap that caused participants to have to pay the full cost of these therapies.
For more information about how caregivers can navigate the complexities of Medicare coverage, visit the official Medicare website at www.medicare.gov.
If you or an aging loved one are in need of Caregiver Services in Dix Hills NY or the surrounding areas, contact the caring professionals at Star Multi Care Services today at (631)956-8835. We are the Right Choice for Home Health Care Services!
From 1978 to 1986, Sternbach was associated with Automated Data Processing, Inc. (“ADP”)–a provider of information services, where he held several marketing positions before becoming the Director of Sales.
1999-2008 Sternbach was an active participant on the Board of Directors for Proginet–a computer software company based in Garden City, New York. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Long Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society from 1996-2002.
In 1996, Stephen Sternbach was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young, Paine Webber and NASDAQ. Sternbach was also named in Crain’s New York Business Article, “40 Under 40” Successful Business Executives/Future Business Leaders in 1995. While maintaining a diversity of business and personal interests, Sternbach concentrated most of his efforts over the past 28 years towards continuously improving the quality of services delivered by the Star Multi Care Services’ family of companies.
Stephen Sternbach holds a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University – Maxwell School of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Relations and Personnel Administration from Ithaca College.
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