Your grandmother just turned 65 and is very confused about Medicare. She doesn’t understand why there are four parts to this health insurance program. She has asked you to help her with enrolling in Medicare. ACTIVITY:  Explain what changes to Medicare benefits were made in 2017, what changes are expected in 2018, and why it may be important to your grandmother.   You can created a brochure, PowerPoint presentation or a report.   You must use 7th edition APA formatting for this activity.

Title: An Overview of Recent and Upcoming Changes to Medicare Benefits

Medicare, the US government’s health insurance program for individuals aged 65 and older, underwent significant changes in 2017 and is expected to experience further modifications in 2018. This report aims to explain the recent and upcoming changes to Medicare benefits, focusing on their relevance and potential implications for your grandmother’s healthcare coverage.

I. Changes to Medicare Benefits in 2017:
In 2017, several notable modifications were introduced to different parts of Medicare. These changes aimed to enhance beneficiaries’ access to care, improve the quality of services, and control the rise in program costs.

1. Medicare Part A:
Medicare Part A, also known as Hospital Insurance, provides coverage for inpatient hospital stays, including critical access hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and limited home health services. Despite minimal changes in 2017, it is important to note that Part A coverage remains crucial for your grandmother’s potential hospital and short-term care needs.

2. Medicare Part B:
Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient medical services such as doctor visits and preventive care, experienced several key modifications in 2017:

a. Expansion of Diabetes Prevention Program: Medicare now covers the Diabetes Prevention Program, a lifestyle intervention aimed at preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. This change not only benefits individuals at risk for diabetes but may also be relevant to your grandmother’s overall preventive care plan.

b. Enhanced Coverage for Telehealth Services: To improve access to care, Medicare expanded its coverage of telehealth services, allowing beneficiaries to receive certain healthcare services remotely. This change is particularly relevant for individuals with limited mobility, such as your grandmother, as it provides more convenient access to necessary healthcare services.

c. New Payment Models: Medicare introduced several new payment models aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of care provided to beneficiaries. These models incentivize healthcare providers to deliver high-quality care and may result in better health outcomes for your grandmother.

3. Medicare Part C:
Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, consists of private health plans approved by Medicare. These plans, which combine Part A, Part B, and often Part D (prescription drug coverage) benefits into a single package, offer additional coverage options beyond what is provided by Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Key changes in 2017 include:

a. Extension of the Open Enrollment Period: The open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans was extended from October 15th to December 7th, allowing more time for beneficiaries to review and make changes to their plans. It is imperative for your grandmother to understand this change and its potential impact on her healthcare coverage.

b. Increased Flexibility for Special Needs Plans: Special Needs Plans (SNPs), designed for individuals with specific health conditions or who require specialized care, were granted greater flexibility in delivering tailored services. Your grandmother should be aware of this change if she falls into any particular category or requires specialized care.

4. Medicare Part D:
Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. Modifications in 2017 were primarily related to drug coverage and expenses, including the gradual closing of the “donut hole” coverage gap. Key changes in Part D include:

a. Decreased Out-of-Pocket Thresholds: The out-of-pocket threshold, which marks the start of catastrophic coverage, reduced in 2017. This change implies that beneficiaries with high prescription drug costs will be eligible for increased financial protection, potentially benefiting your grandmother if she requires regular medication.

b. Gradual Closure of the “Donut Hole”: The coverage gap, commonly known as the “donut hole,” is being gradually closed. By 2020, beneficiaries will pay reduced amounts for brand-name and generic drugs within this coverage gap. Your grandmother should consider the potential long-term financial relief resulting from this change when evaluating her prescription drug coverage options.

II. Anticipated Changes to Medicare Benefits in 2018:
As we look ahead to 2018, several changes are expected to impact Medicare benefits. While the specific details of these changes may evolve, it is important to anticipate their potential implications for your grandmother’s healthcare coverage. Some anticipated changes include:

1. Medicare Cost Plans: Certain Medicare Cost Plans will be discontinued in some areas, potentially affecting beneficiaries who currently rely on these plans. It is crucial for your grandmother to stay informed about any changes that may occur in her specific location to ensure continuity of care.

2. Expanding Telehealth Services: Further expansion of telehealth services is anticipated in 2018, aiming to provide broader access to care, especially for rural beneficiaries like your grandmother. She should remain updated on how these changes may improve her ability to receive healthcare remotely.

3. Modified Coverage for Certain Medications: Adjustments to the coverage and cost-sharing for specific drugs may occur in 2018. Consequently, it is advisable for your grandmother to review her current prescription drug coverage and consult with her healthcare providers to ensure optimal medication access and affordability.

III. Importance to Your Grandmother:
Understanding the changes to Medicare benefits is crucial for your grandmother’s healthcare planning. By staying informed, she can navigate the complexities of Medicare, make informed decisions during plan selection periods, and optimize her coverage for current and future healthcare needs. Knowledge of the anticipated changes in 2018 will allow her to adapt her healthcare strategy accordingly, ensuring she receives the best possible care at an affordable cost.

Medicare benefits experienced significant changes in 2017, aimed at enhancing beneficiary access, improving care quality, and controlling program costs. Additionally, anticipated changes in 2018 focus on expanding access to care, modifying coverage for certain medications, and discontinuing specific plans in some areas. By understanding these changes, your grandmother can make informed decisions about her Medicare coverage and optimize her healthcare experience.