What’s going on with the Medicare Part B premium?

The “Doc Fix” bill that passed this spring includes a provision to level the portion of Medicare Part B costs paid for by beneficiaries. This means the premium has to go up to cover the unfunded portion. According to an analysis by the Center for Retirement Research, quoted in this Fiscal Times article, up to 15 million beneficiaries could see their Part B premium increase from $104.90 to $159.30 a month. Couples could be paying more.

Click here to view the 2015 Annual Report from the boards that manage Medicare’s trust funds, and jump to pages 201-203 to view rate tables.

70 percent of the Medicare population gets their Part B premium taken out of their Social Security check. There is a “hold harmless” provision of the Social Security Act that does not allow Medicare beneficiaries to have any costs passed on to them if there is no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to cover that increased premium. So, most beneficiaries’ premiums will remain stable at $104.90 this year.

Unfortunately for the 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who do not have their premium taken out of their Social Security check, it just so happens that if there is no COLA increase they are responsible for covering the entire amount so their premiums, which will be raised more than 50 percent to $159.30.

This also includes all of those on Medicaid that have their premium paid by the state as well as all individuals who have either chosen to delay taking Social Security or are not full retirement age yet (age 65-67).

NorthWest Benefits will be proactive this AEP let their prospects and clients know what could happen to their medical costs so they’re prepared. 


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