Millions of older Americans get healthcare coverage through Medicare. And while the program is by no means perfect, seniors commonly rely on it once they bring their careers to a close and lose the employer health insurance that previously covered them.
Meanwhile, just as Social Security tends to undergo changes every year, so too does Medicare tend to experience its share of changes. Here are three important ones that enrollees should get ready for in 2023.
1. A lower standard Part B premium
While Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care, is generally free for eligible enrollees with regard to premiums, Part B, which covers outpatient care, costs money. Each year, there's a standard monthly premium assigned to Part B, though it's also worth noting that surcharges can apply for seniors with higher incomes.
This year, the standard monthly Part B premium is $170.10. Most years, the cost of Part B rises from the previous year, but that's not happening in 2023. Rather, the standard monthly Part B premium next year will be $164.90, representing a decrease of $5.20 from 2022.
Why the decrease? In 2022, Medicare Part B premiums went up a lot to cover projected spending on a new Alzheimer's drug, among other things. But Medicare's costs for Part B came in lower than expected this year, so now that savings is being passed along to enrollees.
2. A lower Part B deductible
It's not just Medicare Part B premium costs that are dropping in 2023. The annual deductible for Part B is also decreasing. Right now, it's $233. Next year, it will be $226.
3. A higher inpatient deductible for hospital care
Although Medicare Part A enrollees don't generally pay a premium for coverage, they're liable for various costs, and that includes deductibles and coinsurance for hospital care. This year, the standard inpatient hospital deductible is $1,556. In 2023, that deductible will rise to $1,600.
The cost of daily coinsurance for an extended hospital stay is increasing as well. This year, the daily cost for days 61 through 90 is $389. Next year, it will rise to $400.
Meanwhile, patients who need hospital care beyond 90 days must tap into what are known as their lifetime reserve days, which come with a substantially higher daily coinsurance rate. This year, that daily rate is $778. Next year, it will rise to $800.
Keep tabs on Medicare changes
If you're a Medicare enrollee, there's a good chance healthcare is one of your largest recurring expenses. It's important to keep track of Medicare changes so you know what to expect.
Clearly, the changes coming down the pike in 2023 are a bit of a good news-bad news situation. While it's nice to see the cost of Medicare Part B decreasing, seniors who end up needing hospital care could unfortunately see their financial burden rise in the coming year. It's for this reason that enrollees in original Medicare (Parts A and B) are often advised to purchase supplemental insurance, which can help pick up the tab for deductibles and coinsurance that might otherwise constitute a major financial hardship.