The monthly cost of Medicare Part B coverage is deducted from most seniors’ Social Security benefits, which affect the COLA. That was legislated before 1975. The first COLA was put in place in June 1975 based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The only double-digit adjustments occurred in 1980 at 14.3 percent and 1981 at 11.2 percent.
In the past decade, the COLA has ranged from 0 in 2009 and 2010 to 5.8 in 2008. It was 3.6 percent this year. In 2012, seniors who receive the average monthly Social Security payment of $1,177 will benefit from a net 3.3 percent increase, which represents just under $39 a month.
The base premium for Medicare Part B will be $99.90 next year, which is three percent higher than in 2011. Part B was 96.40 per month in 2009 for beneficiaries with a single income of $85,000 or less, or a joint filer income of less than $170,000. Most beneficiaries continued to pay $96.40 in 2010, but then it became more complicated.
In 2011, most who enrolled in Part B during or before 2009 continued to pay $96.40. Beneficiaries who had the Social Security Administration withhold their Part B premiums and whose income was $85,000 or less individually or $170,000 or less for joint filers did not have an increase in 2011 Part B premiums. Others who had signed up for Part B in 2010 paid $110.50. Anyone not in those categories had the “standard”
About 75 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were exempt from those increases, but Part B premiums have risen sharply since being $45.50 a month in 2000. The premiums only cover 25 percent of actual Part B costs. The 2012 premium was lower than experts anticipated because Part B costs will be spread across a larger number of beneficiaries next year. Beneficiaries in the high-income category will see base premiums decrease by 13.4 percent to the 2012 level of $99.90.
Next year, the Part B annual deductible will also fall by $22 to $140, but the Part A deductible will rise from $1,132 to $1,156 per benefit period. A benefit period begins the day a beneficiary enter a hospital or skilled nursing facility, and continues until they have not received hospital or nursing facility care for 60 consecutive days. There is no limit on the number of times a beneficiary may be required to meet the Part A deductible before Medicare coverage begins.
Medigap Advisors will discuss options to augment Medicare benefits, such as Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap insurance, during a live teleseminar. Callers may speak directly with expert advisors and present questions during the Q&A segment. Free registration for the teleseminar on December 20 at 5 PM Eastern is available at http://www.MedigapAdvisors.com/
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