Exploring the Evolving Landscape of Medicare in 2024

Medicare updates in 2024

by Dan Dankston

Medicare, the federal health insurance program catering to millions of Americans aged 65 and older, those with disabilities, or specific illnesses, is undergoing notable changes in 2024. This article delves into the key transformations within Medicare, shedding light on the nuances of the program and how these modifications may impact beneficiaries.

Medicare Part B Premiums and Deductibles Rise: Medicare Part B, covering outpatient medical care such as doctor visits, preventive services, and mental health care, is witnessing an increase in its monthly premium and annual deductible. For 2024, the standard premium will be $174.70, up by $9.80, and the annual deductible will be $240, an increase of $14. The surge is attributed primarily to projected increments in healthcare spending and, to a lesser extent, adjustments related to the 340B-acquired drug payment policy.

Approximately 8% of Medicare beneficiaries may experience variations in the standard premium and deductible based on their income, with an Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) ranging from $69.90 to $419.30 in 2024. The income threshold triggering IRMAA is set at $103,000 for individuals and $206,000 for joint filers.

Medicare Part D Premiums Show Slight Decrease: Medicare Part D, responsible for prescription drug coverage, anticipates a modest drop in the average monthly premium for 2024. As estimated, the premium is projected to be $33.06, down by $0.34. However, this is contingent on bids submitted by plan sponsors, and actual premiums may differ based on location and plan specifics. Beneficiaries may also incur an IRMAA ranging from $13.10 to $79.10 in 2024.

Other Changes to Medicare Part D in 2024: Beyond premiums, several adjustments in Medicare Part D are expected in 2024:

  1. An increase in the annual deductible from $480 to $500.
  2. A rise in the initial coverage limit from $4,430 to $4,550.
  3. An escalation in the out-of-pocket threshold from $7,050 to $7,250.
  4. A decrease in the coinsurance for generic drugs in the coverage gap from 25% to 24% and maintenance of the coinsurance for brand-name drugs at 25%.

Expanded Coverage for Outpatient Mental Health Services: Medicare Part B will extend coverage for outpatient mental health services in 2024, encompassing licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, and opioid treatment programs. Additionally, peer support services, offered by individuals with lived experience in mental health or substance use disorders, will be covered. Beneficiaries will bear 20% of the approved amount after meeting the Part B deductible.

Inclusion of Chronic Pain Treatment Services: Medicare Part B’s coverage for chronic pain treatment will expand to include dry needling and percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) in 2024. Beneficiaries with chronic low back pain lasting at least 12 weeks, unresponsive to other treatments, can avail up to 20 sessions per year. Medicare will cover 80% of the approved amount, with beneficiaries responsible for the remaining 20% after meeting the Part B deductible.

Telehealth Services: 2024 and Beyond: While Medicare Part B presently covers telehealth services due to pandemic-related expansions, these may dwindle in 2025 unless legislative action is taken. Exceptions include provisions under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, allowing continued coverage for mental health and behavioral health care, substance use disorder treatment, and acute stroke diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment. These provisions are effective from January 1, 2024, until December 31, 2025, necessitating further legislative action for sustained coverage.

In conclusion, the landscape of Medicare in 2024 is marked by both incremental adjustments and significant expansions in coverage, reflecting the dynamic nature of healthcare policies in response to evolving needs and challenges. Beneficiaries should stay informed to navigate these changes effectively and make the most of the available healthcare options.


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