2019 Social Security and Medicare Changes: What You Need to Know



The Social Security Administration has announced that Social Security and SSI benefits will increase 2.8 percent in 2019. This is the largest cost of living increase in seven years. Social Security and SSI recipients will be notified by mail in early December about their new benefit amount. Don’t start celebrating just yet, though.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also announced the 2019 changes to Medicare plans, which come with some added costs. There will continue to be no premiums for Part A, which covers hospitalization. However, cost-sharing amounts for those enrolled in Original Medicare (Parts A and B) will increase across the board. For example, the copay for an inpatient hospital stay under Part A is rising from $1,340 to $1,364.


The standard premium for Part B, which covers traditional healthcare services such as primary care, will increase by 1.1 percent, from $134 to $135.50. The Part B annual deductible, which is paid prior to the start of the 20 percent co-insurance, is increasing by $2, from $183 to $185 per year. Many others who have previously benefited from the hold harmless provision, which prevents Part B premiums from increasing by more than Social Security increases every year, could also see their premium increase.


Essentially, most or all of the 2.8% Social Security benefit increase will go right back to the government for Medicare. Individuals with annual income exceeding $85,000 will pay higher amounts for their Part B premium Part C, or Medicare Advantage, is expanding its scope of coverage and will get its own open enrollment period: January 1st to March 31st, 2019.


Those enrolled in an Advantage plan will have the chance to switch to a different one or drop their Advantage plan and sign up for original Medicare instead. Keep in mind that this Advantage open enrollment period is different from regular Medicare's open enrollment, which runs from October 15 to December 7th.

Premiums for Part D, which covers prescription drugs, will continue to vary in 2019. The national average monthly premium will be $33.19, but actual monthly premiums for standalone Part D drug plans vary across plans and regions from a low of $10.40 to a high of $156. The coverage limit for initial Part D benefits will increase from $3,750 in 2018 to $3,820.


Out of pocket costs will decrease for those in the Part D “donut hole” or “coverage gap,” and next year beneficiaries will pay no more than 25 percent of the cost of a brandname drug or 37 percent of the cost of a generic drug. More information about these changes to Medicare in 2019 can be found at https://www.cms.gov/

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