They can’t agree on a budget or continuing resolution.
If they don’t agree, much of the federal government will shut down until they reach an agreement and the President signs off on a budget.
If that happens, how will the government shutdowns affect Social Security and Medicare?
Your Social Security and Medicare benefits will continue to come as they do every month.
Your Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and/or Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits will continue without a glitch as well.
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How are the different programs affected?
Social Security and Medicare benefits are considered “mandatory spending.”
As such, they are funded out of separate “trust funds,” not out of the federal government’s General Fund.
They don’t require a specific appropriation by Congress. The federal government will continue to process these benefits through the shutdown.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these programs in more detail:
1. Social Security
During a federal government shutdown, Social Security benefits continue to be processed.
This includes retirement, disability, and survivor benefits. These continue to be processed and distributed as usual.
Medicare continues to function without interruption. You will still be able to access medical services, prescription drugs, and other healthcare services as usual.
3. New Medicare Enrollments
The enrollment process is not affected, and new beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Parts A and B as needed.
Since Medigap plans are private health insurance policies and not federal agencies, there is no disruption to Medigap benefits.
5. Medicare Advantage
Since Medicare Advantage plans are private health insurance policies and not federal agencies, there is no disruption to Medigap benefits.
6. Medi-Share 65+
If you’re a member of the Medi-Share 65+ health sharing plan, you likewise have nothing to worry about.
Medi-Share is a private non-profit of hundreds of thousands of separate like minded people. It has no government affiliation whatsoever, and will not be affected by a government shutdown.
7. Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage)
You can still access prescription drug benefits as usual.
Medicare Part D plans are private insurance plans and not affected by a government shutdown.
Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that provides healthcare coverage to low-income individuals, is also not typically impacted by a government shutdown.
States continue to administer Medicaid, and eligible individuals receive their coverage and services without disruption.
What Government Services May Be Affected?
You may see some other federal government services affected.
For example, if you’re trying to deal directly with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Medicare and Medicaid Services, the IRS, and certain other federal departments, you could see a disruption or delay of services.
Non-essential employees in these departments are typically furloughed, and told to return when Congress and the President come together on a budget deal.
None of these situations affect Medicare, Social Security, Part D, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, or Medi-Share 65+ health sharing plans.
Rest assured that Medicare, Social Security, Part D, Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Medi-Share 65+ health sharing plans will continue as usual.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a federal government shutdown, and how does it occur?
A federal government shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass appropriations bills to fund federal agencies and programs, leading to the temporary closure of non-essential government services.
Will a government shutdown affect my Social Security benefits?
No, Social Security benefits are considered “mandatory spending” and are funded from separate trust funds, not the federal General Fund. They will continue to be paid as scheduled.
What about my Medicare coverage, including Medigap, Medicare Advantage, and Part D?
These Medicare-related plans are not government agencies but private insurance policies. They remain unaffected by government shutdowns, and your coverage continues as usual.
Can I enroll in Medicare Parts A and B during a government shutdown?
Yes, the enrollment process for Medicare Parts A and B remains unchanged, even during a government shutdown.
How does a government shutdown impact Medicare Advantage plans?
Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance policies and operate independently of the government. They continue to provide coverage without interruption.
Does the shutdown affect Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage?
No, Medicare Part D plans are private insurance policies and are not subject to government shutdowns. Your prescription drug coverage continues without disruption.
Is Medigap coverage at risk during a government shutdown?
Medigap plans are private health insurance policies, so they are not impacted by government shutdowns. Your Medigap coverage remains secure.
What happens if I need assistance from the Social Security Administration during a shutdown?
While Social Security benefits are not affected, in-person services may be limited during a shutdown. Online services and automated phone systems remain available.
Can I expect delays in processing Medicare claims or appeals during a government shutdown?
Medicare claims and appeals should continue to be processed, but there might be slight delays due to reduced staffing in government offices.
Is Medi-Share 65+, a health sharing plan, affected by a government shutdown?
No, Medi-Share 65+ is a private non-profit health sharing plan and has no government affiliation. It operates independently and is not impacted by government shutdowns.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.