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Posted by: Altura Benefits in Insurance
It’s time to pick your Medicare plan for 2024 – beneficiaries have many options to choose from. The plan you select will impact both your coverage and your costs. Here’s what to expect from Utah Medicare plans.
Every year, Medicare enrollees have the opportunity to change their Medicare enrollment for the coming year. The fall open enrollment period (also called the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period or AEP) takes place between October 15 and December 7. The plan selection you make during this period will take effect on January 1.
Enrollees have two types of Medicare plans to choose from during the fall:
The average national Medicare Advantage monthly premium will be $18.50 in 2024, according to CMS. In 2023, it was $17.86, meaning the increase is only $0.64. Many plans are not increasing their premiums at all – 73% of beneficiaries who stay in their current Medicare Advantage plan can expect no premium increase.
However, it’s important to remember that people who enroll in Medicare Advantage still have to pay the Medicare Part B premium. The standard monthly Medicare Part B premium is $164.90 in 2023, and a Medicare Trustees report predicts it will rise to $174.80 for 2024.
Average Medicare Part D prescription drug plan costs are going down in 2024. CMS says the average national monthly premium is expected to be $55.50, which is a decrease of 1.8% from 2023, when the average monthly premium was $56.49.
Medicare Advantage and Part D plans are offered by private insurance companies. As a result, there is considerable competition between insurance carriers, and Medicare enrollees have many plan options to choose from.
Selecting the right plan is important because coverage and costs can vary significantly. For example, most Medicare Advantage plans use networks of providers. If you see a doctor who is not in your network, you could end up paying a lot more in out-of-pocket costs. It’s therefore important to review a plan’s network before enrolling. Benefits also vary. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage, hearing, dental, vision, and gym membership. However, since not all do, you need to decide which benefits matter most to you and look for a plan that offers these.
Thankfully, new Medicare Advantage plans keep coming onto the market. With more plans to choose from, it’s increasingly easy to find the perfect match. According to KFF, the average Medicare beneficiary had 43 Medicare plans to choose from in 2023. This is a significant increase compared to recent years. For example, the average enrollee had 28 plans to choose from in 2020 and 17 to choose from in 2015.
There are also more Special Needs Plans, catering to specific populations of enrollees. For example, Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans serve individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, whereas Chronic Conditions Special Needs Plans serve individuals with specific health conditions, such as cancer or diabetes. In 2023, there were 1,284 Special Needs Plans, according to KFF – up from 1,156 in 2022 and 975 in 2021.
Although some Medicare enrollees decide to stay in Original Medicare – possibly with a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan – more enrollees are opting for Medicare Advantage. According to CMS, 31.6 million Medicare beneficiaries chose Medicare Advantage in 2023. In 2024, 33.8 million Medicare beneficiaries are expected to enroll in Medicare Advantage.
Although the number of Medicare plans keeps growing, some areas have more plan options than others. In general, highly-populated urban areas have more plan options than rural areas.
According to KFF, the Utah counties of Salt Lake, Utah, Box Elder, Tooele, Weber, Morgan, and Davis had between 21 and 40 Medicare Advantage plan options in 2023. All other counties had between one and 20 plan options. This is a notable improvement from 2018, when several Utah counties had zero Medicare Advantage plan options, and none had more than 20 options.
If this trend continues, Utah Medicare beneficiaries can expect to see even more options in 2024. In fact, Fierce Healthcare says several carriers are planning to expand their plan options for 2024.
Medicare coverage has undergone several changes recently. Many will be in effect for the 2024 plan year, including:
The Medicare fall open enrollment period is your opportunity to make sure you have the best plan for your needs. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Even if you’re happy with your Medicare plan, you should take the time to explore your options.
Comparing Utah Medicare plans can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Altura can help. Contact us.
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