One of the unfortunate truths about aging is that it often brings more health issues, and even a single doctor visit can upend your monthly budget. Medicare helps seniors cover their healthcare expenses so they don’t have to pay for everything out of pocket, but it has its own costs.
Medicare’s premiums and deductibles typically climb each year, but 2023 is poised to buck that trend. New changes to the program will also reduce the cost of some common services. Here are three of the most exciting cost-saving adjustments to the program for 2023.
1. Medicare Part B costs are decreasing
For the first time in over a decade, Medicare Part B premiums are dropping from their all-time high of $170.10 in 2022 to $164.90 in 2023. That’s only a savings of $5.20 per month, but it adds up to over $62 left in your pocket by the end of next year.
The Medicare Part B premium is also slated to fall next year, from $233 to $226. This may not affect you if you don’t visit the doctor in 2023, but if you do, it’ll bump up your total savings on Medicare costs to nearly $70 compared to 2022 rates.
2. Caps on insulin costs
Beginning in 2023, all Medicare Part D-covered insulin is capped at $35 for a one-month supply. Those who get a 60- or 90-day supply would pay up to $70 or $105, respectively. Seniors also won’t pay a deductible for their insulin coverage. And starting on July 1, 2023, insulin used in traditional insulin pumps, which are covered by Medicare Part B, will have similar caps.
This should lead to significant savings for many diabetic seniors. Some paid up to $116 per prescription on insulin in 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Average costs for all insulin products at the time were $54 per prescription. So dropping the cap to $35 per one-month supply should save seniors about $228 per year, compared to the $54 average.
3. Free ACIP-recommended vaccines
Seniors will no longer have to pay out of pocket to get Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)-recommended vaccines beginning in 2023. These include:
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines
There are many other vaccines that are covered as well if you need them. Many are covered under Part D, though, so you may need one of these plans to take advantage of these free shots.
If you have any questions about what shots are covered, you can always reach out to the government by phone to ask. Your Medicare card should tell you which number to use. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a Part D plan administered by a private insurer, you should reach out to that insurer instead.
Since Part D plans charge a variety of rates for prescriptions and vaccines, it’s difficult to say how much you’ll save because of this change. But it could be pretty substantial if the vaccines help you avoid a serious disease. For example, if the flu or COVID-19 vaccine prevents you from coming down with one of these illnesses, you won’t have to pay for the hospital bills you might have incurred had you not gotten the vaccines.
You might be able to reduce your costs even further
These three changes will help a lot of seniors save on their healthcare costs, regardless of which plan they choose. But you might be able to get your costs even lower by shopping around during the Open Enrollment Period. This is going on until Dec. 7, 2022, and it’s the only time most seniors can make changes to their health insurance plan for 2023.
Take some time to review your options if you haven’t already. Pay attention to the following factors:
Cost, including premiums, deductibles, and copays
Coverage, especially for treatments and prescriptions you know you’ll need
Whether your preferred doctors or providers are in the plan’s network (Medicare Advantage plans only)
How it fits in with any other health insurance plans you have
It may not be the most exciting way to spend an afternoon, but you’ll be glad you took the time for it, especially if you wind up with some unexpected medical bills in 2023.
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