Congress Approves Freeze on Reduced Medicare Doctor Payments

Time is frozen.

Congress voted to approve a one-year freeze on Medicare physician payments to avoid a sharp rate reduction that was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2011. Before the vote, President Obama had called the freeze “an important step forward to stabilize Medicare.” He is expected to sign the legislation. The new one-year freeze follows a series of short-term fixes that have blocked the threatened cuts repeatedly over the past eight years. The threatened pay cuts had raised the possibility that more doctors would turn away Medicare patients. Doctors had been facing a 25 percent cut in reimbursement rates for treating Medicare patients. The new “doc fix,” which is estimated to cost $19 … [Read more...]

2011 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles and Co-pays

2011 Medicare Premiums, Deductibles and Co-pays

The 2011 Medicare premium, deductible and co-pay charges were recently announced and the changes for most seniors will be minimal, unless you’re a high-income beneficiary. Here is a quick snapshot of the announced changes. 2011 Medicare Premiums: Since the Social Security Administration will not be giving out a cost of living increase (or COLA) in 2011, the Medicare Part B premiums for most beneficiaries will not increase either. Thanks to the “hold-harmless” law, which prohibits Part B premiums from rising in any year that there’s no COLA, the 2011 monthly premium will remain at $96.40 for most existing beneficiaries, or $110.50 if you enrolled in the program this year. Unfortunately, … [Read more...]

New Healthcare Bill and Seniors

New Healthcare Bill and Seniors

Many senior citizens worry about the effect that the health care reform bill may have on them. After all, they generally use the health care system more than do younger people. And those living on fixed incomes may have little leeway in their budgets to help if their health costs rise. Would the healthcare reform legislation that President Obama plans to sign into law on Tuesday affect seniors in any direct way? The short answer is “yes.” The longer answer is that some seniors may lose Medicare benefits they now enjoy. Many others will gain from an enhancement of Medicare’s prescription-drug program. Here are some specifics on these changes: Medicare cuts Under the healthcare reform … [Read more...]

Healthcare Reform and Medicare Changes

Healthcare Reform and Medicare Changes

The sweeping healthcare overhaul the U.S. House of Representatives approved on Sunday includes about $455 billion in spending cuts for Medicare and other federal health programs over the next 10 years. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers about how the reform will affect Medicare healthcare recipients. WILL THE LEGISLATION CUT MEDICARE BENEFITS? There are no cuts to the traditional Medicare benefit. The lion's share of spending cuts are in Medicare Advantage -- a program that uses private firms such as Humana and UnitedHealth Group to deliver Medicare benefits. Many of these providers offer extra coverage and some of those extras could be dropped as Medicare … [Read more...]

2010 “Modernized” Medicare Supplement Summary

2010 “Modernized” Medicare Supplement Summary

New laws are bringing many changes to Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance plans and policies. Contrary to what many believe, these changes are NOT a result of the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill. In fact, the changes DO come as a result of HR 6331, known as the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), which authorized implementation of the NAIC's proposed Medigap modernization changes, approved by the NAIC Plenary in March of 2007. Effective June 1, 2010, companies may offer two new Medicare supplement insurance plans and will stop selling five plans on June 1, 2010. Certain other plans will also have benefits added or deleted. The primary changes … [Read more...]

2010 “Modernized” Medicare Supplement – Questions

Medicare Supplement Insurance Image

Here are few quick Questions and Answers regarding the new 2010 "modernized" medicare supplemental plans released June 1, 2010. Did these changes come as a result of the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill? Contrary to what many believe, these changes are NOT a result of the recently passed Healthcare Reform Bill. In fact, the changes DO come as a result of HR 6331, known as the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA). When are these changes effective? The 2010 Medicare Supplement changes will be effective on any policy sold with an effective of June 1, 2010 or later. Why were plans E, H, I and J eliminated? Plan E was eliminated because … [Read more...]