2021 Medicare Premiums on the Rise?

Can you expect 2021 Medicare premiums to be higher? Yes and no. Most 2021 Medicare premiums and other costs will increase, as announced on November 6th by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 

We have all the 2021 Medicare premiums, copays and deductibles listed below along with how they’ve changed from this year. You can download a free copy of our 2021 Medicare Fact Sheet to have all this right at your fingertips. The Fact Sheet gives an overview of the parts of Medicare, key dates, and important penalties and enrollment periods.

2021 Medicare Premiums and Other Costs

Medicare A Premium

$0 if you or spouse has 40+ quarters of Medicare-covered employment

If you do not have enough eligible quarters of employment, you’ll pay up to

$471/month (less depending on eligible quarters). This is $13 more than in 2020.

Medicare A Hospital Coinsurance

$1,484 deductible for each benefit period (up from $1408)

$0 coinsurance for days 1-60

$371/day for days 61-90 (up from $352)

$742/day for up to 60 additional “lifetime reserve” days after 90 days ($704 in 2020)

Medicare A Skilled Nursing Care

Pays 100% up to 20 days

$185.50/day co-pay for days 21-100 ($176 in 2020)

Medicare B Premium

Standard premium: $148.50 (an increase of $3.90 from $144.60 in 2020)

Those with incomes above $88,000 or $176,000 if filing jointly pay more.

Medicare B Copay

$203/year (increase of $5)

Medicare D Premium

Varies by plan (higher income individuals will pay an additional adjustment)

Lower 2021 Medicare Premiums and Costs for Medicare Advantage Recipients (The Lowest in 14 Years!)

On the other hand, those who choose to receive Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan may see 2021 Medicare premiums go down. CMS predicts average 2021 premiums for MA plans will be about 34% less than in 2017 and the lowest in 14 years.

However, it is important to consider all costs involved with Medicare Advantage plans, not just monthly premiums. Many companies have expanded their $0 premium plan options in 2021. These can be ideal options for some people. For others, they can be more costly than they first appear and inappropriate for some needs. MA plans with $0 premiums may charge more than others for doctors visit copays, co-insurance for prescriptions, annual deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket costs. They also may have limitations and different procedures than what you’re used to with regular Medicare.

Overall, market demand has led to decreasing monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans lately. With more people in a financial pinch, it’s unsurprising they’re popular.

Even with lower 2021 Medicare Premiums, some MA plans will offer extra benefits

MA plans have also started offering ancillary benefits. These may include meal delivery, transportation to medical appointments, caregiving and home safety modifications. Starting in January 2021, Medicare Advantage plans will be allowed to offer supplemental benefits that target any chronic health condition, according to the National Council on Aging. In 2021, CMS estimates, some 730 Medicare Advantage plans will provide this kind of coverage for roughly 3 million enrollees.

However, be aware that there are over 3,400 Medicare Advantage plans in the country, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. So, how they operate and what they offer varies widely. Some areas may have few options, while others have many competitors.

These types of services will be closely managed, so don’t expect such plans to cover all your needs to remain at home long-term with a chronic condition. Also, MA plans aren’t the only way to save money on 2021 Medicare premiums and costs. You may be eligible for various programs that assist with Medicare costs.

To make sure you access all the benefits available to you and get what you need, consider the services of a patient advocate.

Understanding Your 2021 Medicare Premiums, Costs and Benefits: Shop Smart

Many experts will tell you that most people spend more time shopping for a car than a Medicare plan. In our experience, people rarely shop around unless their plan goes away or makes major changes (and maybe not even then). Yet, many of them could be saving money or getting better benefits.

The 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment season runs from October 15th through December 7th. During this period, you can change plans, move from Medicare Advantage back to regular Medicare or from Medicare to an MA plan. There is an additional period, from January 1st-February 14th, during which you can disenroll from MA and opt back into regular Medicare and Part D (prescription drug coverage). Additionally, there are various specialty enrollment periods based on circumstances. So, if you find yourself stuck with coverage that is not working for you, talk to a professional about options. And, please take this time to compare your choices, even if you think your current plan is okay. As you can see, 2021 will bring more changes and options.

Some New Medicare Benefits in 2021

If you take insulin, look into Medicare’s new Part D coverage. It’s known as the Part D Senior Savings Model. This is available to all Medicare recipients and provides supplemental benefits and potential cost savings for people on all types of insulin. CMS says that over 1,600 MA and Part D plans will charge no more than a $35 monthly co-pay for insulin, beginning in January.

We bet you’ve had some of your first experiences with telehealth in 2020. Though telehealth was already growing, the COVID-19 pandemic sped up adoption exponentially. Studies show that 46% of patients are now using telehealth to replace canceled in-person visits, up from just 11% of patients who used telehealth in 2019. Medicare made provisions to better cover telehealth during this time. Expect to see more telehealth benefits from Medicare and MA plans in 2021.