The Part B Buy Back. Is this Medicare Advantage Benefit Destined for Popularity? (Analysis)

Medicare Advantage (MAPD) plans have become more benefit rich with less risk and more options.  As a result, growth in MAPD plan enrollment continues as expert research indicates the health outcomes are simply better than Original Fee For Service Medicare.

Some beneficiaries choose Medigap (Medicare Supplement) Coverage to enhance their Part A & Part B coverage and do have broader access to care than say an MAPD HMO plan.  They pay quite dear for that in many ways however including:

Monthly Premiums 

Medigap costs vary by state and plan.  With recent legislation, Plan F is no longer available.  Plan G that pays all Medicare approved medical costs except Part B deductible ($198) ranges from $90/mo. to over $250/mo.  Average is around $1500 annually

Additional Cost for Prescription Coverage (Part D)

Ranges from $14 – $39 monthly.  Another $200/year for coverage that is included in Medicare Advantage plans.

They Forego Additional Benefits

No Dental, Vision, Hearing, Over the Counter Medications, Transportation, In Home Care, Gym Memberships that are included in most MAPD plans.  These can add up to thousands in additional coverage for those that take advantage of them.

Competition is good for business and the consumer too. 

Especially in cities and also states where retirees flock, like Florida, the number of options in MAPD plans has expanded with copays and risk on the decrease.  Good news.  This has also given way to plans with a benefit that should grow in popularity for certain Medicare beneficiaries.

Enter The Medicare Part B “Buy Back”

What is the Part B Buy Back? 

Most beneficiaries pay $144.60 monthly in 2020 (expected to increase in 2021) to maintain Part B coverage although some may pay more based on income.  The Buy Back is a benefit offered by MAPD insurers that restores all or part of that Part B premium to the beneficiary, most commonly into the monthly Social Security benefit.

Are Your Medicare Part B Premiums A Financial Burden?

Your Medicare Advantage Plan can help pay them. Qualify regardless of income! Learn more.

Prior to the Buy Back, you could only get relief from the Part B premium by applying for a Medicare Savings Program.  This requires qualifying under certain, very low income and asset levels based on federal poverty line standards.  

Most beneficiaries do not qualify as their income levels are not low enough and any significant assets (like a home, retirement account etc.) are counted.

Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer the Part B Buy Back and the amount varies based on location.  We see benefits of $80, $90 up to the entire $144.60 monthly.  Obviously, for those on tight budgets it can be a welcome bonus. 

There are concessions though.

Some benefits like Dr. visit copays, outpatient services and diagnostics may be more.  Also, some added benefits like over the counter drugs may be leaner.  It is important to weigh your medical care routine in terms of cost against the Buy Back benefit.

If you are on a Medicare Advantage plan or are considering one the Buy Back benefit is worth exploring.  As with any MAPD shopping experience we undertake on a client’s behalf, we have an easy, no pressure process that works.  

There is never a fee and no banking information is needed.

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