What's new in Medicare benefits for 2024?

Medicare coverage and costs change each year, so it’s important to understand and review your benefits. Here’s an overview of what’s new in 2024.

Medicare Part A and Part B costs in 2024

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital services, skilled nursing facility services, home health care, and hospice. Most people don’t owe a premium for Part A, but if neither you nor your spouse have 10 years of Social Security work credits, you may owe a monthly premium. If you’re admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, you’ll owe a deductible of $1,632 at the beginning of your stay. If you have multiple hospitalizations, you may owe the deductible more than once during the year.

After you meet your deductible, your first 60 days in the hospital and your first 20 days in a skilled nursing facility cost you nothing. After that, you owe an out-of-pocket cost each day for your continued stay.

Medicare Part B covers outpatient costs, such as doctor visits, lab tests and durable medical equipment. In 2024, the standard Part B premium is $174.70. If your modified Adjusted Gross Income is above $103,000 as a single person or $206,000 as a married couple, you may pay a higher premium. The Part B deductible is $240 for all of calendar year 2024. You’ll continue to owe a 20% coinsurance for most services covered by Part B.

For both Medicare Part A and Part B, you may also apply for Medicare Supplement Insurance (also known as Medigap) coverage through private insurance companies which may help you to “buy down” your risk of uncertain costs through additional monthly premiums. The State of Alaska publishes a consumer guide to these Medigap policies, updated annually; contact our office to obtain a copy.

Prescription drug coverage costs in 2024

Medicare Part D covers outpatient prescription drugs. In 2024, the national average premium for the Part D basic benefit is around $30 per month. Your premium and drug costs vary based on your plan and your prescription drug needs.

If your Part D plan has an annual deductible, it can be no higher than $545 in 2024. If you reach the catastrophic coverage phase in 2024, you then won’t owe any of the cost of your covered drugs. This is a new change and means that your Part D out-of-pocket spending will be capped at $8,000.

Looking ahead, this cap will be further lowered to $2,000 in 2025. If your income is limited, you may qualify for help with your Medicare costs. One of these cost-saving programs is called Extra Help. In 2024, full Extra Help will be expanded so that even more people are eligible.

Be wary about Medicare scams

Some of you may remember that new Medicare cards were sent to people on Medicare in 2018. These new cards removed Social Security numbers to better protect people with Medicare. While the rollout of new Medicare cards ended years ago, scams about Medicare cards continue. You will not be getting an updated Medicare card this year, but scammers may try to convince you otherwise.

For example, scammers may falsely tell you that Medicare is again issuing new cards—perhaps plastic ones, metal ones, or chipped cards. The scammers may tell you that you must verify your identity for them to send your new Medicare card. This is an attempt to gain your personal or financial information. Beware of unsolicited calls, such as anyone claiming to be from Medicare, needing you to verify your identity, or sending you an updated Medicare card. Please report any suspected Medicare card scams to our office.

This new year is a welcome opportunity to look ahead, while also reflecting on the years gone by. If you find yourself overwhelmed by any Medicare issue, please feel free to contact the State of Alaska Medicare Information Office at 800-478-6065 or 907-269-3680. Our office is also known as the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), and the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) program.

If you are part of an agency or organization that assists seniors with medical resources, consider networking with the Medicare Information Office. Call us to inquire about our new Ambassador program.

Sean McPhilamy is a volunteer and Certified Medicare Counselor for the Alaska Medicare Information Office.