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CMS: Medicare parts A and B rates will increase for 2019

Just three days before Medicare open enrollment is set to begin, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced an increase to premium and deductible rates for Medicare parts A and B.

The new rates issued by the CMS on Oct. 12 will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. Open enrollment for the federally run healthcare program begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.

Medicare Part A covers hospital expenses, including healthcare costs from facilities and services such as inpatient hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice and home care. Part B is similar to typical health insurance, covering services including outpatient surgeries and lab work and necessary medical equipment like wheelchairs. Part B also covers costs from specific facilities such as ambulatory surgery centers and rural clinics.

Beneficiaries can choose to enroll in each plan separately or enroll in a combined program called Medicare Advantage, which is administered through private insurers and has varying rates depending on the types of plans offered. Medicare Advantage Premium rates were updated by CMS in September.

Part A deductibles will rise by $24 over 2018 rates to $1,364 for 2019. This deductible covers beneficiaries' costs for the first 60 days of inpatient care. After the first 60 days, beneficiaries pay a per-day coinsurance rate. The 2019 rate for days 61 to 90 will increase to $341 per day, $6 higher than the previous year. For days 91 to 150, what is known as lifetime reserve days, rates will be $682 per day, an increase of $12. The coinsurance amount specifically for skilled nursing facilities will also be increasing by $3 for days 21 to 100 to $170.50.

The standard monthly premium for Part B coverage is based on a beneficiary's income and will be $135.50 in 2019 for those in the bottom income bracket of $85,000 per year or less. Monthly premium rates increase incrementally from that bottom bracket. Medicare Part B's annual deductible is increasing for all beneficiaries to $185, up $2 from the 2018 rate.