Of the various expenses retirees are forced to grapple with, healthcare can be a big one. In fact, seniors are routinely surprised at just how high their costs are under Medicare. And that extends to Medicare Part D, which covers prescriptions.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that seniors could see their premiums for prescription drug coverage drop in 2023. But that drop isn't much to write home about, and it could easily be offset by higher deductibles.
Lower premium costs won't go a long way
Many seniors lived on a fixed income that largely consists of Social Security. And affording healthcare is a struggle for many retirees. Come 2023, seniors could get a break in the form of lower Medicare Part D premiums — to the tune of $0.58, that is.
That's right — the average cost of a basic monthly Part D premium is expected to drop from $32.08 to $31.50. So all told, seniors may be looking at pocketing a few extra dollars in the course of the year.
Or will they? While Part D premium costs are set to drop, next year's maximum deductible under Part D is projected to rise by $25 from $480 to $505. Granted, this change won't impact all seniors, as some Part D plans don't impose a deductible. But those subject to the maximum deductible could see their premium-based savings washed away.
Meanwhile, as is always the case, higher earners will pay more for Part D as a result of being subject to income-related monthly adjustment amounts, or IRMAAs. Those apply to Part B premiums as well.
Prepare for healthcare expenses
Many seniors are caught off guard when they realize how much it costs to get healthcare under Medicare. But a good way to avoid a financial shock down the line is to consistently fund a health savings account (HSA).
The beauty of HSAs is that funds don't expire, so workers can contribute to these accounts through the years and carry that money forward into retirement, when it's apt to be needed the most. HSA withdrawals are tax-free, provided they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses, and the Part D costs above fall under that umbrella.
Another great thing about HSAs is that come age 65, they effectively convert to a traditional retirement savings plan in that withdrawals used for nonmedical spending are taxed but not penalized (prior to age 65, a 20% penalty for nonmedical withdrawals applies). That gives seniors a lot of flexibility.
Stay tuned for more Medicare changes
While it's technically nice to see that seniors may be getting a break on their Medicare Part D premiums, the reality is that a $0.58 drop isn't exactly much to write home about. Meanwhile, enrollees are still waiting to see what changes come down the pike with regard to Medicare Part B.
Last year, Part B premiums rose substantially, thereby eating into seniors' Social Security raise. It won't be surprising to see a large Part B premium hike this year to follow.
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