The Medicare open enrollment period is here, and this year will likely be a record for the number of people signing up for Medicare Advantage plans for 2021.
New Advantage plans being offered are providing more and more benefits to Seniors and are very attractive for people who have a lot of healthcare needs. They can cover services for common, necessary medical procedures and diagnosis, and help to provide peace of mind. That is often worth the monthly premium for many seniors who currently struggle to pay their healthcare bills every month. And, there might $0 premium plans available in your area. Any changes made during this time will go into effect on January 1st of the following year.
Medicare Advantage Plans in 2021 will provide at least as much coverage as both Part A and B Medicare together (Original Medicare), although some plans offer additional benefits. Many advantage plans in 2021 will have Part D prescription drug coverage built into the plan, as well as dental, vision, and hearing coverage also included.
Medicare Advantage Plans 2021 – 3 Big Changes For 2021
Due to Medicare advantage plan benefits improving each year, along with the recent Covid-19 pandemic and an effort to improve overall medical services for Seniors, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) has initiated some changes to Medicare advantage plans in 2021.
The 3 Major Changes to Medicare Advantage for 2021 plans are:
- A Medicare Part D drug plan Coverage Level Change (including donut hole parameters changing)
- An expanded Telehealth service offered to patients
- Changes to End-stage renal disease (ESRD) applicants
Medicare Part D Drug Plans For 2021
For years Medicare has had something called the “donut hole”. This is a time when the cost of your medications reach a certain level, and you are in what is called a coverage “gap”. Historically when this happened your drug costs would rise dramatically.
The Medicare Part D change in 2021 is raising the amount of money it takes to reach this donut hole, causing some to get in later than usual which is always a good thing. The amount it took to reach this gap in 2020 was $4020, and it’s being raise in 2021 to $4130.
Expanded Telehealth Services In 2021
Another great change taking place to Medicare advantage plans in 2021 is the extended telehealth benefits. Members of advantage plans can now receive care in a virtual format in the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Internet and conferencing via video makes this all possible, and it became a necessity due to the COVID virus. In all honestly, this was long overdue and is especially important for those who have trouble leaving the home.
Any check-ins to your doctor can be performed via:
- Phone calls
- Video conferencing
- Using Text message
- Using the provider/patient website portal
End-Stage Renal Disease Applicants In 2021
In the past, Medicare advantage plans were only available to people who had ESRD if they enrolled in one during their open enrollment period or changed during the Medicare Annual election (AEP) period each October.
Due to an act in Congress called the 21st Century Cures act, in January of 2021 beneficiaries who have ESRD may enroll into Medicare Advantage plans and be eligible.