Person navigates Medicare Jenga with wooden blocks featuring medical symbol, money, documents, medication.

Frustrations Around Medicare Changes

With the new year came a lot of new things - resolutions, expectations, and hope for a brighter future. What is something that squashes that hope? Good ‘ole Medicare.

Many people with Parkinson’s disease fall in the qualifying Medicare category - aged 65 or older. For people with Parkinson's who are under 65 years old, I hope you are still working and receiving medical benefits because otherwise, I am not sure how you are surviving. For those who have a low enough income to qualify for Medicaid, I say two things: (1) I am sorry you fall in a higher income bracket, and (2) I, and my family, envy your healthcare.

What exactly is Medicare?

Medicare is this unique and special coverage where you receive “free” coverage and benefits from the government. However, do not be fooled. What they offer is just enough to cover the basic needs of someone in their old age; certainly not enough coverage for someone who is retired and is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Just to break it down for you a bit before delving into my continuing experience dealing with Medicare, Medicare can be a bit confusing but I think I have it down. There are multiple parts to Medicare and you have two options essentially. Put together the different parts of the plan and build your plan or choose a Medicare Advantage plan. Regardless, you do have to have a Part D addition which is the Drug Care costs.

I know there is more to it, and I am sure I don’t have it right anymore, but somehow I figured my way out of the maze and got my father the best plan I could figure out. Trying to explain how I did that would like me finding the solution to an incredibly complicated math problem once and then having someone ask me to explain it again - I just can’t do that. I’m a high school English teacher. I can barely do long division.

Find a trustworthy insurance agent

If you find yourself trying to figure out the best plan for yourself, or your loved one, take my advice and find yourself a trustworthy insurance agent. The process of going through the Medicare website and cold calling each insurance company will take as many hours as you spend at a full-time job. (I had a bit of a break between jobs which is a fun way of saying I quit my previous job, and it took a few minutes before I found my current one).

Regardless of what plan you decide on or whatever plan decides on you, there are some new updates and changes with the upcoming year, all changes that are more expensive and mean more money out of our pocket.

Changes to Medicare in 2020

According to the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services government website, “For 2020, the Medicare Part B monthly premiums and the annual deductible are higher than the 2019 amounts. The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $144.60 for 2020, an increase of $9.10 from $135.50 in 2019. The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $198 in 2020, an increase of $13 from the annual deductible of $185 in 2019.”  In addition to the monthly premium, there is also “The Medicare Part A inpatient hospital deductible that beneficiaries will pay when admitted to the hospital will be $1,408 in 2020, an increase of $44 from $1,364 in 2019.”1

The numerical increase seems small and for me to write a whole article on it seems petty, but it isn’t just about the increase in premiums. They also plan on making it more difficult to approve requests for specialized services, specifically in home nursing services which is something we heavily rely on for our father.

We do our best to bring as many services to my father so as to limit his driving but beyond that, we need more help. We need someone in our home medically monitoring our father, making sure he hasn’t fallen or slept his day away. All of these are services required for someone with Parkinson’s disease but Medicare does not approve these services even partially, and they are only going to make it more difficult.

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