Medicare Part B
Recently I received an e-mail that said: “The per person Medicare Part B insurance premium will increase from $96.40 to $104.20 in 2012; 120.20 in 2013 and $247.00 in 2014 per month.” I checked the accuracy of this e-mail and found out the information given was far from true.
What I found out is that nobody can say with precision what the basic Part B premium will be next year or the year after, let alone in 2014. The premium is set each year at the level calculated to pay for 25 percent of the cost of the coverage. Medicare officials do keep close watch on the trends. Medicare’s Office of the Actuary has given these projections:
MEDICARE PART B STANDARD PREMIUM:
Currently, about the top 5 percent of seniors pay an “income-related premium” which was enacted as part of the same 2003 law that created the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit. Upper-income seniors have been paying more than the standard premium since 2007. Currently those earning between $85,000 and $107,000 for individual (between $170,000 and $214,000 for couples) pay a total of $161.50. The amounts grow larger for higher-income groups, reaching $396.10 per month for seniors making more than $214,000 (or $428,000 for couples).
The new law doesn’t increase those premiums, but does ensure that more high-earning seniors will pay them. It does this by freezing the income brackets at 2010 levels through 2019, rather than allowing them to rise with inflation as originally enacted. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report in December projecting that in 2019 the top 14 percent of seniors would be paying the income-related premiums, an additional 3.5 million seniors.
The law also established a separate set of income-related premiums for Medicare Part D the prescription–drug benefit–which previously had charged only a standard premium for all. Taken together, these changes are expected to bring in an additional $36 billion over 10 years, Kaiser’s study said.