Can they really put money back into your social security check?
Yes, it’s offered through SOME Medicare Advantage plans but not all.
Here is how it works.
Some Medicare Advantage plans out there that can “buy back” your monthly Part B premiums, ultimately putting money back into your pocket. You’ve likely seen this on TV, but unfortunately it’s misleading as this specific benefit is narrowly used by a few plans across the country.
These plans are effectively paying you instead of the other way around! Let me explain.
Medicare Part B Premiums in 2022
In 2022, the standard Medicare Part B premium will be $148.50. Your premium may be a bit higher if you have a higher income. Below is a snap shot directly from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid about the current Part B premium scale.
The reason you have to keep paying this premium is because Medicare Part B is a paid program, unlike Medicare Part A which you earned during your working years by paying social security taxes. By default, everyone has to pay for Medicare Part B unless they get some kind of financial assistance.
While Medicare Part B is a part of original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans are privately owned and offer additional benefits beyond original Medicare. In particular, Part B buy back is an additional benefit offered by some plans. This is sometimes confusing to many people, so bear with me.
To have Medicare Advantage, you must be enrolled in original Medicare Parts A and Parts B. In order to be enrolled in original Medicare, you must have worked 40 quarters (or 10 years) paying into social security to earn Part A, and then pay a monthly premium for Part B. To stay enrolled, you have to continue paying your premiums!
You can’t get a Medicare Advantage plan without having original Medicare.
What are Medicare Advantage Part B Buy Back Plans?
Medicare Advantage plans are additions to your existing Medicare coverage. They can vary greatly in coverage amounts and premium prices. Some Medicare Advantage plans can come with a $0 premium or a low premium in addition to a Part B buy back (or give back, as some plans call it).
If you pay your Part B premium automatically out of your Social Security check, this could feel like a bonus added to your monthly checks! You’ll start seeing a bit more coming in, which is nice, assuming the plan you choose has the buy back option.
Premium Give Back Plan? What’s the Catch?
You’re probably skeptical about the idea of an insurance company wanting to give YOU money.
However, there’s not really a catch. According to Quality Health Plans of New York, Medicare Advantage plans “may choose to use some of the funding it receives” to “reduce its members Medicare Part B premium.”
So, what these plans are doing is providing you an incentive to sign up for their plans.
Even if they give you some of that money back for your Part B premiums, they still get paid from your copayments, deductibles, etc.
As you’re looking into available Medicare Advantage plans that offer Part B buy back benefits in your area, be sure to consider what you might be giving up.
Remember, all plans are different, but it is possible that a plan with a Part B buy back option will have higher copayments and deductibles – which may not matter to you if you don’t spend a lot of time in the doctor’s office! The devil is in the details.
I guess you could say the only true “catch” to these plans is that you have to stay enrolled in Medicare parts A and B – but that’s true of any Medicare Advantage plan. You’ll have to continue paying your A and B premiums, even if you do get some of that money back.
Additionally, it may be a few months after you sign up for your premium give back plan before you receive your first Part B reimbursement.
How do I Get a Part B Buy Back (Give Back) Plan?
Great question! As you can imagine, these plans might be harder to find than more standard Medicare Advantage plans, and there may or may not be one available in your area.
Unfortunately, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) does have certain rules in place that forbid us from sharing the plan details with you publically. However, we have licensed agents across the nation who can meet with you either in person or by phone to help you choose a plan.
If you’re interested, call us at 800-691-1832. Let us know that you’re interested in Part B buy back plans, and we’ll do all we can to help! You can also leave us a message here, and we’ll get back to you.
Good News: 2021 Medicare Advantage Plans Have Higher Ratings and Lower Premiums
It’s time to start making decisions for your healthcare coverage in 2021. The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare beneficiaries is going on NOW and only lasts through December 7.
As you’re looking through your Medicare Advantage and Part D plan options for next year, you may notice that monthly premiums are shrinking and benefits are expanding!
CMS (The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) released a statement earlier this fall that said the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan in 2021 will be the lowest it’s been in 14 years (since 2007!)
In fact, the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium will see a decrease of 34.2% from 2017, while plan choice and benefits continue to expand. In some states like Alabama, Nevada, and Kentucky, the average premium decrease since 2017 will be closer to 50%.
Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) will also have low premiums in 2021, with standard plans averaging around $30.50 a month. This marks a 12% decrease in PDP premiums since 2017.
Average star ratings increasing
The average star ratings for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans in 2021 are set to increase significantly. About 77% of Medicare Advantage enrollees will have a plan with 4 or more stars, and 98% of those in a standalone PDP plan will have a rating of more than 3.5 stars.
There will also be more plans with a 5-star rating than were available in 2020, including UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, and Anthem BCBS. Even the lowest-rated plans have improved to at least 2.5 stars.
CMS uses this Medicare star rating system for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to determine whether or not a plan is doing its job, and whether or not it can stay on the market. Plans that consistently receive poor ratings (one or two stars) will eventually be removed from the market.
Plans are given a star rating between one and five, with one being “poor” and five being “excellent.”
Medicare Advantage plans are rated on the following factors:
How often members receive treatment for long-term conditions
Current member satisfaction
Plan performance in comparison to the previous year
Customer service quality
Part D plans are rated on the following:
Number of member issues with the plan
How many people left over one year
Patient safety while using prescriptions in the plan
Accuracy of pricing
Quality of care
Customer service quality
More and more Medicare Advantage and Part D plan carriers are entering the market every year, meaning there is more competition. More competition means that more plans are trying to be the most valuable to be able to compete. That’s why even though costs may be going down, plan ratings are still increasing.
If you plan on meeting with a licensed agent during this year’s Annual Enrollment Period, be sure to ask about four and five-star plans in your area!
Remind me: What is Medicare Advantage?
You can enroll in Medicare Advantage as an addition to your Original Medicare coverage. Since Medicare Advantage plans are owned and operated by private insurance companies and are not the same as the government Medicare program, the coverage is a bit different.
Medicare Advantage plans are able to cover things that Original Medicare is not, such as fitness programs, dental, vision, and prescription drugs.
Medicare Advantage plans might come with copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles, but the average premium for 2021 is expected to be $21/month.
If you can afford to add a Medicare Advantage premium, the benefits may save you from thousands of dollars in healthcare costs later on.
Expanded benefits for 2021
Earlier this year, CMS released the 2021 benefit and cost sharing information on Medicare.gov. In large part due to the coronavirus pandemic, they are offering expanded benefits in several key areas, and many health care providers are taking advantage of this flexibility.
There will be over 4,800 Medicare Advantage plans in 2021 for enrollees to choose from, a 76.6% increase since 2017. The number of MA plans per country is also growing in the new calendar year.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 94% of all MA plans will provide added telehealth benefits. The current health crisis also drove CMS to develop the Part D Savings Model, which sets a $35 monthly copay rate for insulin. Over 1,750 MA and PDP plans are participating in this new model in 2021.Many health plans are also expanding their benefits for enrollees with chronic conditions. About 500 Medicare Advantage plans will feature either supplemental benefits or lower copays to those with specific chronic diseases or other conditions.
$0 Premiums and Special Needs Plans
Some people may even be eligible for a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan. Others still may be eligible for low-cost Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans.
CSNPs are Chronic Special Needs Plans and are for people who have certain chronic conditions and need additional coverage. ISNPs are Institutional Special Needs Plans and are for people who have been living in an institution such as an inpatient medical facility for 90 days or more. DSNPs are Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans and are for people who are dual-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
How to Get a Low-Cost, Five-Star Medicare Advantage Plan in 2020
Our licensed agents across the nation are contracted and certified to sell a number of Medicare Advantage plans. An agent can sit down with you and show you all of the top-rated plans available in your area and help you select which one is best for you.
To get in touch with a licensed agent, call 844-431-1832 or click here.