Medicare Part B could raise some premiums in the new year by as much as 52 percent. The hike would be the largest in Medicare’s history. Recipients affected would pay increased monthly premiums, from about $104.90 to $159.30, or $318.60 for married couples. Recipients with higher incomes would pay more. According to estimates, those in the highest income bracket will see premiums rise to approximately $509.80 per month.
For about 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, however, the premiums will remain the same. These recipients have Medicare premiums deducted directly from Social Security checks. They’re protected from increases by a “Hold Harmless” provision in the law, which helps avoid reducing Social Security benefits.
Which Medicare recipients will be affected?
- Those who are enrolling in Medicare Part B for the first time in 2016
- Those who signed up late for Part B and pay permanent penalties
- Those with higher incomes ($85,000 and over for individuals, $170,000 and over for married couples)
- Those enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid
- Those who don’t yet collect Social Security or pay premiums directly to Medicare (not collected from Social Security)
If you’re in one of the above groups, you may have options. Those planning on claiming Social Security in 2016 may consider enrolling in November or December 2015 instead. Those in higher income brackets might see if life-changing events qualify them for an exemption. You might also find out if other coverage options are available through a spouse or an employer. Consult a financial advisor or the Social Security Administration for specific advice.
AARP and other advocacy groups are protesting the premium hike to Congress. Senator Ron Wyden has introduced the Protecting Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015. If passed, the act would hold premiums constant for all beneficiaries.