Medicare’s annual open enrollment period is just around the corner. Between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7, seniors can make changes to their plans for 2023. But before you dive into the new options, it’s helpful to know about some big changes the government has made to the program for next year. Here are five to keep in mind.
1. Changing start dates for new Medicare recipients
Beginning in 2023, if you sign up in the month you turn 65 or the three months thereafter, your coverage begins on the first day of the following month. This is a change from previous years, when you had to wait up to three months after you signed up for your coverage to start in some cases.
Those who sign up in the three months before their 65th birthday will receive benefits starting in their birth month, unless their birthday is on the first of a month. Then, coverage begins the month before your birthday. For example, if your birthday is May 1, you could sign up as early as January 2023, and if you signed up between January and March, your coverage would begin April 1.
2. New eligibility requirements for Special Enrollment Periods
Starting next year, you could be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period if you miss your Initial Enrollment Period or the Open Enrollment Period for the year due to exceptional circumstances, including:
- Being affected by a national disaster or an emergency
- Losing Medicaid coverage
3. Coverage for lung cancer screenings
Medicare’s preventive care services will include lung cancer screenings in 2023. But this isn’t open to everyone. You only qualify if you meet the following criteria:
- You’re between the ages of 50 and 77.
- You don’t have any signs or symptoms of lung cancer.
- You’re a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years.
- You have a tobacco smoking history of an average of at least one pack per day for at least 20 years.
- You get an order from your doctor.
Those who meet these criteria won’t pay anything out of pocket for this screening.
4. Additional coverage for immunosuppressive drugs
In prior years, Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs following a kidney transplant only lasted for 36 months. Starting in 2023, Medicare will continue to pay for these immunosuppressive drugs beyond 36 months if you have no other health insurance. But there is a premium for this coverage.
Those interested in this service can sign up beginning Oct. 1, 2022. They must do so by Dec. 31, 2022 if they want their coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2023.
5. Lower Part B premiums and deductibles
The standard Medicare Part B premium will drop to $164.90 in 2023. That’s a decrease of $5.20 per month from 2022. Those with incomes greater than $97,000 will pay more than this, but their 2023 premiums will also be a bit lower than their 2022 premiums.
In addition, the deductible for Part B is also set to decline by $7 per month. It may seem like a small change, but it makes a big difference for seniors who are struggling to pay for basic expenses as well as their healthcare costs.
These changes may not all affect you, but it’s good to keep them in mind. When you choose a new plan, take some time to review all of its coverage options so you understand what you’re signing up for. And review all costs associated with the plan as well so you can plan for them appropriately in your budget.