Is it possible that the Medicare Part B premium could go down for 2012?
The short answer is yes, that is possible for some Medicare beneficiaries. Most beneficiaries have had their Part B premium frozen since 2009 due to the hold harmless provision in the law (an increase in the Part B premium cannot result in a net decrease in the Social Security benefit). This means that the increasing cost of Medicare has been spread among fewer people, those who are not eligible for the hold harmless provision.
Assuming there is an increase in Social Security benefits in 2012, a virtual certainty at this point, all hold harmless beneficiaries will pay more for Part B Medicare in 2012. Spreading the cost increase among all beneficiaries means that the individuals who have been paying higher premiums than would have been required in the absence of the hold harmless provision may see a decrease in their monthly premium.