Question: I know there was a cost of living expense increase but I barely got an increase in my Social Security check. What happened?
Answer: Although your Social Security increased by 1.3%, Medicare’s Part B premium, which is deducted from your Social Security check, increased by $3.90. Your Medicare Part B premium for 2021 is $148.50. So Sorry!
Now that open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and standalone drug plans is over, there is another Medicare Advantage open enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31 in 2021. This is specifically if you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch to a different Medicare Advantage Plan or switch to original Medicare and enroll in a standalone Medicare Part D drug plan. You can only make one change during this period, and any changes will become effective the first of the month after the plan gets your request.
Nobody asked me, but you should be aware of home health services that Medicare covers, such as intermittent skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech-language pathology services and occupational therapy. These services are just as effective and more convenient and usually less expensive when you get them in your home. You must be homebound and have a doctor’s certification to that effect (being homebound means leaving your home isn’t recommended because of your condition, or your condition keeps you from leaving without using a wheelchair or walker or getting help from another person). Services must be from a Medicare approved home health agency. Medicare Part A (at times Part B) covers home health services. Check with your doctor and health plan for possible copays or co-insurance.
Hospice care is totally different and is covered in full by Medicare. Check with your health provider or your “Medicare and You” handbook. For more information and questions, contact a SHIP counselor.
Remember to be on guard for fraudulent schemes. Neither Medicare nor Social Security will call you unless it is in response to your call. Anyone coming to your door soliciting DNA swabs through Medicare or Medicaid is fraudulent. Never give anyone your name, Medicare or Social Security information. The fraudulent Social Security calls keep coming — I get them, too. Hang up!
My best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and pleasant 2021!
Editor’s Note: Roberta Ezratty is a certified State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor. She can be reached at 623-866-4214.