2022 Medicare News: What are the Latest Medicare Updates?

0
1152
medicare

What’s New With Medicare?

The world of Medicare, America’s federally-regulated health insurance program for seniors and those with certain disabilities, is always changing. With so much news to keep track of, how is anyone supposed to know what’s most important to remember?

Well, courtesy of our friends at MedicareInsurance.com, here are the biggest and most important headlines pertaining to Medicare news from this year so far.

Billionaire Mark Cuban Has Proposed a Partnership with Medicare

By far, the most mainstream news in the world of Medicare involves Texas billionaire Mark Cuban (owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks) and his groundbreaking new online pharmacy, the Cost Plus Drug Company.

Among Cuban’s many business interests, prescription drug access seems out of place, but the reality is, this unique online pharmacy concept has proven that there are many untapped ways that Medicare beneficiaries can lower the cost of their prescription medications.

Here’s how Cuban’s system works: 

One of the biggest concerns for the average prescription medication consumer is cost. Currently, the Medicare program is legally barred from negotiating prescription drug costs with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of its beneficiaries. The Cost Plus Drug Company does not have this handicap, and therefore goes straight to pharmaceutical manufacturers to negotiate affordable prescription drug prices.

Here’s the kicker: a recent study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School showed that, by adopting negotiation policies similar to those of the Mark Cuban online pharmacy, Medicare’s drug program could have saved up to $3.6 billion in prescription drug costs in 2020. This very same study showed that, using current protocol, Medicare is estimated to have overpaid for 77 generic medications.

Earlier this year, Mark Cuban proposed a partnership of sorts with the federal government in order to make prescription medications more affordable to the average American senior and the Medicare program, there hasn’t been much headway. Still, President Biden did claim earlier this summer that his administration is in favor of allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of its enrollees.

Medicare Part B Premium Reductions Are Still a Possibility

Another news story that could point toward increased savings for those enrolled in Medicare is the possibility of reduced Medicare Part B premiums, which may be coming later this year or early next year.

Medicare Part B is the “medical insurance” portion of Medicare, meaning that Part B is primarily responsible for providing coverage for healthcare needs such as preventative care, medically necessary services, and doctor’s appointments.

While it’s normal for Medicare Part B premiums to fluctuate now and then, the most recent increase in Part B premiums was undoubtedly higher than usual. This price hike has been attributed primarily to Medicare’s attempt to tackle the cost of a new Alzheimer’s medication, known as Aduhelm. As a result, Medicare Part B premium costs jumped from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 this year.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are required by law to set the Medicare Part B premium at 25 percent of estimated costs that will be incurred by Part B that year. For 2022, CMS had to consider the potential of covering Aduhelm on a wide scale. These factors resulted in a higher Medicare Part B premium for this year.

Now, however, CMS has determined that it wouldn’t cover Aduhelm on a broad scale. Instead, it would only be covering the costs of the treatment for certain patients who have been approved for clinical trials. 

These factors played a huge role in causing CMS to rethink this year’s Medicare Part B premium increase. While such major mid-season changes to Medicare premiums are considered rare, the possibility that you could see your Medicare premiums decrease this year are relatively high.

A New Bill Looks to Expand HSA Access to Medicare Beneficiaries

Health Savings Accounts, also known as HSAs, are a type of medical savings account that allow you to set aside pre-taxed money in order to pay for any potential medical expenses you may encounter down the line. For many Americans, HSAs are a great way to avoid the unexpected costs associated with a health care emergency.

But did you know that current law states that you may only make contributions to an HSA if you are enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan? For the millions of American seniors on Medicare, which is NOT considered a high-deductible health insurance plan, this is problematic.

Although you are still allowed to withdraw funds from an existing HSA as a Medicare beneficiary, you are prohibited from opening a new HSA or continuing to make contributions to the one you already have. This may be part of the reason why many Americans of retirement age opt to delay enrolling in Medicare until they decide to stop working. For those Americans though, there may be some good news on the horizon.

Members of Congress have been working for some time to make positive reforms to the Medicare program. In April, Representatives Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Jason Smith (R-MO) made Medicare news headlines by reintroducing the Health Savings for Seniors Act, or H.R. 3796. This legislation aims to further Medicare reform by allowing seniors to continue making their current regular HSA contribution or to start a new HSA.

Passage of H.R. 3796 would allow HSA accounts to act as a helpful supplement for seniors who are already enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. As Representatives Bera and Brown have presented the bill, allowing seniors to keep making HSA contributions would allow them to have better access to crucial services that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for. It would also help seniors save around 12 percent on every medical cost paid for with funds from their HSA.

Where Can I Stay Up-to-Date on All the Latest News in Medicare?

If you’re someone that likes to keep your finger on the pulse of Medicare news, then MedicareInsurance.com is a great place to visit. Additionally, MedicareInsurance.com is available to help you research and compare Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans in your area in an effort to get coverage that is specifically tailored to your needs.

Give MedicareInsurance.com’s licensed insurance agents a call today at (800) 950-0608 to learn more about your options!

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here