Read it and weep, especially if you will be turning 65 in 2016😱
CHICAGO (Reuters) – Should 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries shoulder a 52 percent premium hike next year while the other 70 percent pay no more at all? Advocates for seniors do not think so, and they are making a push to convince Congress to stop it from happening. The Medicare population vulnerable to shouldering the larger premium includes some federal and state government employees, people who sign up for Medicare for the first time next year, low-income seniors whose premiums are paid by state Medicaid plans and high-income seniors who already pay premium surcharges. For these 16.5 million enrollees facing the stiff increase, monthly premiums would rise to $159.30 from $104.90, according to the recent annual report of the Medicare trustees (http://reut.rs/1MPkYeN).
Meanwhile, 36 million Medicare Part B enrollees would have their premiums hold steady at $104.90 because increases are tied to Social Security cost-of-living adjustments as part of a “hold harmless provision” in the Social Security Act. Because no COLA is expected next year due to extraordinarily low inflation this year, the Part B premium will stay flat. Some costs will go up for almost everyone, however, as trustees forecast a big increase in the Medicare Part B deductible, to $223 from $147, with the exception of those who have first-dollar Medigap supplemental policies and Medicare Advantage plan enrollees.
WHAT CAN BE DONE Advocates for the 30 percent are swinging into action, trying to convince Congress to pass a one-time fix that would hold off on cost of living increases for everyone. Legislation that extended the hold harmless provision to those not covered by it passed the House of Representatives when a similar situation occurred in 2009, but never received a vote in the Senate. This time, the fix is being pushed by a broad coalition of advocates and organizations representing federal and state government workers. No official figures are available, but a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests a fix would cost the federal government $10 billion.