3 Medicare Changes That Should Benefit Seniors in 2023

Millions of Americans 65 and older get healthcare coverage from Medicare. And while the program has areas that could be improved upon, for many enrollees, it’s a lifeline.

Meanwhile, like Social Security, Medicare tends to undergo certain changes every year. In some cases, those changes can be detrimental, like higher out-of-pocket costs. But here are three positive Medicare changes enrollees can look forward to in 2023.

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1. A lower standard Part B premium

Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care, is generally free for enrollees. But Part B, which covers outpatient care, costs money.

Part B charges a standard monthly premium, which is paid directly out of Social Security benefits for seniors enrolled in both programs. In 2022, the standard Medicare Part B premium was $170.10 a month. This year, however, that standard premium has shrunk to $164.90, thereby allowing enrollees to pocket an extra $5.20.

To be clear, these figures represent the standard Medicare Part B premium. Higher earners who are subject to Part B surcharges due to their income could end up paying considerably more.

But most years, the cost of Medicare Part B increases. This is the first time in a long time that it has gone down, which should give seniors some relief at a time when inflation is still raging.

Plus, seniors on Social Security won’t have to worry about higher Part B premiums eating into their 8.7% cost-of-living adjustment, since the cost of Part B is going down. That should put them in a stronger position to gain buying power, something many Social Security beneficiaries struggled with in 2022.

2. A lower Part B deductible

Medicare Part B comes with an annual deductible that enrollees must pay before they’re subject to co-insurance alone. In 2022, the annual Part B deductible was $233. This year, it’s down to $226.

3. Lower medication costs

The cost of medication can be a huge burden for seniors, particularly those who don’t have much in the way of savings and mostly live on their Social Security benefits. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, as of Jan. 1, Medicare enrollees who take insulin are seeing their out-of-pocket costs capped at $35 for a one-month supply of covered insulin products. Also, insulin won’t be subject to Part D deductibles.

Furthermore, Medicare enrollees could see their vaccine costs decrease. Effective Jan. 1, enrollees with Part D prescription coverage might be eligible for certain vaccines at no cost, including the shingles and tetanus-diphtheria-whooping-cough vaccines.

It’s not always bad news

Medicare changes can often leave seniors on the hook for higher costs. And previous Part B hikes have often meant that Social Security recipients weren’t getting as much out of their cost-of-living adjustments as they could.

But this year, some seniors might see their healthcare expenses decrease thanks to these and other Medicare changes. And at a time when so many people are buckling under the weight of soaring inflation, that’s a very good thing.

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