Medicare open enrollment is here—and with it comes all the information about changes to Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. While it can be confusing and overwhelming, it’s important to take the time to learn about these updates, how they may affect your medical care, and how they might impact your out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

“Some folks assume things will just be the same year to year, or they procrastinate because it can be overwhelming to wade through,” says Sarah Murdoch, director of client services for the Medicare Rights Center. The center is a national, nonprofit organization that provides information and helps educate the public about Medicare. “But it’s worth taking the time to review things so you make sure you’re not missing out on the best options for you,” she says.

Here are six things to know for coverage in 2022.

1. Part A hospital deductibles will be slightly higher.

There will be a $72 increase in the deductible of Part A (the portion of Medicare that covers inpatient hospital stays), from $1,484 in 2021 to $1,556 in 2022. It’s important to know that this increase is per benefit period, not per year. So, for example, if you’re admitted to the hospital and released, then readmitted 60 or more days later, your deductible starts anew.

2. Part B premiums and deductibles are inching up.

For Part B (the portion of Medicare that covers things like doctor visits, lab work, physical therapy, and medical equipment), there will be a $30 increase in the annual deductible in 2022, from $203 to $217*. There’s also a an increase in the Part B monthly premium, from $148.50 in 2021 to $170.10 in 2022.

3. Part D drug premiums may be slightly higher.

If you have Original Medicare, or an Advantage plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage, you may also notice another price increase: The average 2022 premium for Part D coverage will be an estimated $33* per month, compared to $31.47 in 2021. You can also get prescription drug coverage through many Medicare Advantage plans, but keep in mind that these plans may adjust their rules and change their deductibles and cost-sharing each year. Always review your list of drugs when the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) letter arrives in September to make sure your plan still covers your medications and that their costs haven’t increased.

“Across the board, little changes can add up, and it’s worth it to double check everything from copayments to deductibles to coinsurance when shopping for plans,” says Murdoch. “In the big picture, you can save money.”

4. Medicare Advantage premiums will probably go down slightly.

One piece of good news if you’re enrolled in Medicare Advantage: In 2022, the average premium will cost an estimated $19* per month, down from $21.22 in 2021. Generally, Advantage plan premiums are lower than  Medigap (Medicare supplement) premiums. But because you may have more out-of-pocket spending with an Advantage plan, you still have to compare choices to decide whether an Advantage plan fits your budget. “Every person’s situation is unique,” says Murdoch.

5. People with diabetes should have better access to insulin.

One in three people on Medicare have diabetes, and more than 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries use at least one of the common forms of insulin. But it can be challenging for some older adults to afford insulin on a limited budget. In January 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rolled out a limited pilot program that provided a monthly supply of insulin for no more than $35. In 2022, this will be expanded to more than 2,100 plans, including more than 500 new Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans.

6. There will be more Special Needs Plans (SNPs) and supplemental benefits to choose from.

SNPs—which offer additional coverage for people with specific health needs—are on the rise. One type of SNP, a Dual SNP (D-SNP), which serves people who qualify both for Medicare and Medicaid, has a planned increase of nationally-available plans, from 256 in 2021 to 295* in 2022. This means more low-income individuals will have yet another free or low-cost option for getting the care they need, says Murdoch. And the percentage of plans offering special supplemental benefits for people with a chronic health condition will increase from 19% to 25%*, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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References

1. The Medicare Resource Center. Medicare Open Enrollment 2022 Guide.
October 15, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.medicareresources.org/medicare-open-enrollment/

2. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
CMS Releases 2022 Premiums and Cost-Sharing Information for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans. September 30, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-releases-2022-premiums-and-cost-sharing-information-medicare-advantage-and-prescription-drug

3. Medicare.gov.
Plan Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/mail-you-get-about-medicare/plan-annual-notice-of-change-anoc Accessed October 21, 2021.

4. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Part D Senior Savings Model. September 30, 2021. Retrieved from https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/part-d-savings-model

5. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
CMS Releases Projected Medicare Part D Average Premium. June 29, 2021. Retrieved from
https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/news-alert/cms-releases-2022-projected-medicare-part-d-average-premium

6. Medicare Costs At A Glance. Medicare.gov. Restrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/medicare-costs-at-a-glance. Accessed December 27, 2021

* Final costs for 2022 were not yet available at the time of publishing. These costs are estimates.

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