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new SHINE logoMedicare Part B premiums, deductibles and coinsurance for 2019

Lorraine York Edberg headshotLorraine York-EdbergThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced the Medicare Part A and B premiums and deductibles for 2019.

These figures are based on the Social Security Cost of Living increase of 2.8% for 2019, which equates to an increase of $28 monthly for every $1,000 you receive in Social Security.

The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B in 2019 will be $135.50, up from $134 in 2018. Some beneficiaries will pay less than the full standard monthly premium amount due to the statutory hold harmless provision, which limits certain beneficiaries’ increase in their Part B premium to be no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits.

Medicare beneficiaries whose individual income is above $85,000 annually or a couple’s joint income above $170,000 annually will pay an increased amount for their Part B and Part D, called an income-related monthly adjustment amount, also known as “IRMAA.” The Federal government bases the 2019 adjustments on the beneficiaries’ 2017 Federal Income taxes. You may request a new initial determination through Social Security if you believe your IRMAA is incorrect by contacting your local Social Security office. Some other beneficiaries will be paying higher Part B premiums if they are on Medicare Part B, but not yet collecting their Social Security benefit.

The monthly Part B premium for those who are enrolled helps pay for doctors' services, x-rays and tests, outpatient hospital care, ambulance service, medical supplies, and other medical equipment. 

The 2019 Part B annual deductible will be $185 for all people with Medicare, an increase of $2 from 2018. The Part B deductible is annual; once you have incurred $185 of expenses for Medicare-covered services in any year, the Part B deductible does not apply to any further covered services you receive for the rest of the year.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) helps pay for hospital care, skilled nursing care, home health care, hospice care, and other services. The Part A deductible will increase from $1,340 to $1,364 for beneficiaries with Medicare only; the Part A deductible is the beneficiary’s only cost for up to 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital services. The 61st to the 90th day has increased from $335 to $341 a day, and beyond the 90th day has increased from $670 to $682 a day. For beneficiaries who have a Medigap plan to supplement Medicare, often most of these costs are covered by their supplemental insurance.

The skilled nursing facility coinsurance increased from $167.50 to $170.50 for the 21st to the 100th day. Medicare Part A covers the first 20 days in a skilled nursing facility, after a three-day qualifying stay in a hospital.

Many Medicare beneficiaries purchase additional insurance to cover the gaps of Medicare to help reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

This article is based on a news release from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The SHINE Program, Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone… with Medicare, provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. To reach a trained and certified counselor in your area, contact the regional office at 1-800-498-4232 or 413-773-5555 or contact your local council on aging.

Jessica Riel headshotJessica Riel, EditorEvery year, it feels like more and more information vies for a piece of our time. In 2018, there are not just computers and smartphones that ding and buzz with bits of news, but even watches, cars, and home devices talk and beep at us so we can stay in the millions of loops abuzz on our planet. And that’s on top of the old standards like television, radio, and the tangible newspaper, which, perhaps thankfully, don’t tend to chime and vibrate to get our attention, but are still there waiting to be listened to and perused.

Amid all that chaos of information, you’ve decided to take time to read these pages, and for that we are thankful. Whether you read the articles and stories presented here on newsprint in The Recorder, in our monthly mailing, or online via email subscription or here, thank you for taking the time to stay in the loop with us.

We also want to send thanks to the many people who helped each story come to life, by being interviewed or putting their own words to paper. For those of you who read online, the top 2018 story visited this year was about Dino Schnelle, who participated in our free Healthy Living workshop on managing chronic pain. Dino reported that “the goal-setting and expectations-management tools have been one of the most important things that I learned, and the exercise and diet tools continue to help me reclaim my life.” If you know someone who could benefit from the program or are interested yourself, new sessions begin in February 2019. Find a Healthy Living workshop calendar here, and request more information about our Healthy Living program here. You can also call Program Manager Andi Waisman at 413-773-5555 x2297 or 978-544-2259 x2297.

Reviewing the top stories in 2018 helps us to determine what to cover in the coming year, but if you’d like to share your own thoughts and ideas, we welcome them! You can reach me, the editor of The Good Life, by email or by writing to:

Jessica Riel
Editor, The Good Life
LifePath, Inc.
101 Munson St., Ste. 201
Greenfield, MA 01301

If you missed a past edition of The Good Life, you can find it online here. There you can also sign up to receive The Good Life in your email inbox each week. And if you know someone who doesn’t have access to The Good Life in the Saturday Recorder or via the internet, you can also reach out to me (email, mail, or phone: 413-773-5555 x2296 or 978-544-2259 x2296) with a request to sign up for the monthly mailing subscription list.

Have a very happy new year!

If you need a hand, let us know. We’re here to help!

Oct 2017 PP dining centers luncheon clubs photoWe’re really good at keeping people at home. We’re even better at getting them out of the house. Senior Dining Centers and Luncheon Clubs offer more the a meal; they are a social gathering of friends. Shown here is a convivial crowd at the Warwick Luncheon Club in 2015.

Late on a weekday morning, the air fills with a light breeze as you walk up to a door, opening it the scent of a warm harvest soup simmering on a stove and the sound of lively voices chattering out into the country air.

You walk into a friendly lunchtime gathering, pick a seat by a window, and take a few minutes to settle before you add your voice to the discussion around you.

Welcome to your local dining center and luncheon club. More than a dozen groups gather during the week all across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Have you given one of these lunches a try? It’s worth dropping by and seeing why so many locals keep returning.

“It’s good visiting time. We have a chance to gab,” says a luncheon club attendee. “We have a good time!”

Shelburne Senior Center 45th Anniversary photoThe Shelburne Senior Dining Center was one of six dining center and luncheon club locations to celebrate a 45th anniversary in 2018.Seniors age 60 and older and their spouses of any age are invited to attend. Individuals with disabilities who are under age 60 and reside in the same home as an elder diner may also attend. Dining centers and luncheon clubs offer a time to enjoy a meal in the company of neighbors and friends. Call one of our locations to order a meal.

Participants are asked to call to sign up for lunch by 11 a.m., one serving day in advance. You do not have to be a resident of the community in which you dine. A $3 suggested donation will help cover the cost of the meals.

The Athol, Deerfield, Montague, Northfield, Orange, and Shelburne dining centers all reached their 45th anniversaries this year, having been among the first meal sites to open back in 1973.

Dining centers and luncheon clubs have been managed by LifePath since 1974. For more information, contact us. Read more about the program and find menus.

Do you take care of a parent or someone needing support with their care? If so, remember that a healthy mouth can help them enjoy food, chew better, eat well, and avoid pain and tooth loss.

Plaque puts a healthy mouth at risk. It can collect on teeth that aren’t brushed well. The buildup can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Some individuals need to be reminded to brush and floss teeth. Others may need help actually getting it done.

You can take steps to help make brushing easier

For example, try a power or multiple-sided toothbrush. You can also modify the toothbrush handle to make it easier to hold.

If you are providing support, remember to wash your hands and wear disposable gloves before you begin. Use the “tell-show-do” approach. Tell them what you are going to do, show them, and then do what you’ve described.

Regular dental visits are important too. At a dental visit, you can ask for ways to help the person you care for.

The National Institutes of Health has a series of fact sheets to help caregivers learn more about protecting oral health in older adults.

Article adapted from the National Institutes of Health November 2018 News in Health.

hip logo enEven though it’s winter, local fruits and vegetables are still available in our abundant hills and valleys, thanks to the efforts of local farmers. For people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a special program can help to make these healthy local foods more affordable.

Through the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP),  participants can double the value of their SNAP benefits when making certain purchases at certain farmers markets. The program has been extended through February 28, 2019. Is is also set to resume in the spring.

HIP helps families afford more fresh, canned, dried, and frozen fruits and vegetables without added salts, sugars, fats, or oils. HIP adds the amount of your purchase instantly back to your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, up to a certain value each month. If you are a household of one or two people and spend $40 of your SNAP benefits at a HIP retailer, you will earn $40 credit back in your SNAP account. For a household of three to five people, the amount is $60, and it is $80 for a household of six or more. Your receipt will show the amount of additional SNAP dollars you have earned.

Though most local farmers’ markets have closed for the season, the Greenfield Winter Farmers’ Market, taking place at the Four Corners School at 21 Ferrante Ave on the first Saturday of the month until March 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., participates in HIP. Beyond Franklin County, the Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market takes place at the Hampshire Mall in Hadley on Saturdays through March 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market also takes place on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Northampton Senior Center at 67 Conz Street; both participate in HIP.

In addition to farmers markets, some farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) are also HIP retailers. To find more information or other HIP retailers near you, visit the HIP webpage, call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333, or look for the HIP logo.

CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) offers a complete directory of farmers markets. To request a hard copy, contact the CISA office at 413-665-7100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Nutrition Program at LifePath operates many senior dining centers and senior luncheon clubs, as well as the Meals on Wheels program, across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. Home Care and other programs may offer assistance with grocery shopping. To learn more, contact us.