How to lower your Medicare costs during open enrollment for 2024
Medicare open enrollment season is approaching—Oct. 15 to Dec. 7—when you can join, switch, or drop a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or a private insurer’s Medicare Advantage plan for 2024. Experts say it’s vitally important to explore your options carefully.
“Every survey I’ve seen finds that year-to-year [Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage] plan changes may offer improved coverage, lower costs, or both, to people who take the time to research next year’s plan offerings,” Phil Moeller noted in his Get What’s Yours newsletter on Medicare, Social Security, and health care.
Lowering out-of-pocket health costs can be a huge help for people on Medicare. More than one in five Medicare beneficiaries struggle to afford their health premiums, according to a recent Commonwealth Fund study.
3 big Medicare changes for 2024
This is an especially important year to review Part D and Medicare Advantage (also known as Part C) plans because of three changes taking effect Jan. 1, 2024, described in detail in the government’s new Medicare & You 2024 handbook:
1 - The end to some out-of-pocket costs for catastrophic prescription costs. Once your Part D out-of-pocket spending for prescriptions tops $8,000, you won’t owe a copayment or co-insurance. In 2023, you pay co-insurance of 5% once out-of-pocket spending reaches $7,400 (the dollar amount will drop to $2,000 in 2025).
Bottom line: If you have steep prescription drug costs in 2023, that may be less true in 2024, so there may be more reason to compare Part D plans for your medications.
2 - Bigger savings for up to 3 million low- and moderate-income people. In 2024, everyone qualifying for Medicare’s Extra Help subsides will pay $0 for Part D premiums and deductibles and a reduced amount for generic and brand-name drugs. You’ll be eligible if your 2023 income is under $21,870 ($29,580 for a couple) and have less than $16,660 in resources other than a primary residence, vehicles and personal possessions (below $33,240 for married couples).
Bottom line: If you’ll meet the thresholds, you’ll want to sign up for Extra Help when enrolling in a Part D plan.
3 - Better mental health care coverage. Medicare will cover mental health services provided by marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors as well as intensive outpatient program mental health services. But the therapists will need to accept Medicare for you to get this coverage and some won’t, says Omdahl.
Bottom line: This could be a reason to look for Medicare Advantage plans whose networks will have the pros you’ll want.