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The Biggest Medicare Changes for 2021

4 minute read

By Heather Fishel

Each year, Medicare subscribers have the chance to make changes to their coverage. During a brief window from October 15 to December 7, anyone who’s on Medicare can change plans and update their coverage for the next year. Since significant changes in coverage are planned each year, make sure to search online to find out more about 2021 changes for Medicare subscribers.

For 2021, the biggest changes happening to your Medicare coverage are occurring for Medicare Advantage subscribers. If you currently have a Medicare Advantage plan, are considering signing up for one, or want to change your coverage, you need to know about these important changes. You can search online to find Medicare Advantage plans during open enrollment.

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Are you ready to make changes to your Medicare coverage? Before open enrollment begins, here’s what you need to know. The following are the biggest changes coming to Medicare on January 1.

Increased Coverage for Telehealth Services

One of the most important changes happening within Medicare is the addition of more coverage for telehealth services and telemedicine. As increasingly more individuals need to meet with doctors in their own homes, telemedicine is providing the opportunity for patients to schedule appointments to “see” doctors on video calls. It’s a great way for seniors and high-risk people to get medical treatment without leaving home.

Now, Medicare is offering to pay for some of the costs of these telehealth services. In 2021, you’ll be able to take advantage of virtual services like e-visits and virtual check-ins with doctors and other healthcare professionals.1

Additionally, Medicare Advantage plans are also offering increased coverage for telehealth services. Depending on the specifics of the coverage you choose, you may be able to meet with telehealth providers for your primary care, cardiology, dermatology, psychiatry, gynecology, and endocrinology needs.

During open enrollment, make sure to look into telehealth and telemedicine coverage as you update or re-enroll in Medicare. If you’re interested in taking advantage of telehealth services, make sure to look for these changes in different plans.

New Long-Term Care Coverage Options

Long-term care coverage isn’t exactly comprehensive under Medicare. In years past, both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans have both covered only skilled services or rehabilitative care for a maximum of 100 days. While Medicare Advantage plans might offer some supplemental coverage, seniors’ options have long been limited.

This is changing in 2021. Medicare Advantage plans will begin offering increased home care services, with additional supplemental coverage to better meet subscribers’ needs. The coverage will vary from plan to plan, so make sure to look into the details of different Medicare Advantage plans during open enrollment.

You can look out for the following long-term care coverage additions, which are expected to appear in a number of Medicare Advantage plans for 2021:

Keep in mind that long-term assisted living expenses still will not be covered by either Medicare or Medicare Advantage. The added coverage is meant to help seniors live independently and safely.

More Choices and Coverage for Seniors With End-Stage Renal Disease

In years past, individuals living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) had very limited options under Medicare. They could only enroll in Medicare Advantage under certain restricted circumstances. But during the 2020 open enrollment period, those living with ESRD can sign up for Medicare Advantage and pick a new plan. Coverage for these new plans will begin on January 1, 2021.

This gives individuals with ESRD more choices and more coverage options. And it comes with a number of benefits.

Medicare Advantage plans that now accept ESRD patients can offer critical coverage for services like dialysis, case management, and ongoing healthcare support. ESRD patients will also likely pay less out of pocket, as Medicare Advantage plans cap individual spending at $6,700 per year – a significant decrease from Original Medicare’s cap of $15,000 per year.

Make Changes to Your Medicare Coverage Before Open Enrollment Ends

You only get one opportunity to make changes to your Medicare coverage – and it’s during open enrollment. This is the one time per year that you can enroll in a new plan as a current Medicare subscriber. It’s also the perfect opportunity to consider and compare different plans with coverage that might better meet your needs.

Make sure to do your research before you pick a new Medicare plan. Look at the information about changes that will go into effect in 2021. Take the time to search online and compare your options. And don’t forget to look at the price – both premium costs and your out-of-pocket costs. You can find the right Medicare coverage at the most affordable price for your budget if you take the time to search.

Heather Fishel



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