Medicare changes for 2017 – higher out-of-pocket costs for all

While most beneficiaries were protected from a premium increase because of the Social Security hold harmless provision, the basic Medicare Part B premium increased to $134. 

However, out-of-pocket costs have increased for all on Medicare. 

NOTE: Many beneficiaries are protected from these costs because they have supplemental coverage. Congress is looking at changing the rules so that supplemental plans cannot provide full insulation from out-of-pocket costs. 

Changes for 2017 are:

The Part A hospital deductible is increasing from $1,288 to $1,316.

Hospital co-payments for the 61st through 90th days are increasing from $322 to $329.

Lifetime reserve days co-payments are increasing from $644 to $658.

Skilled nursing facility co-payments for the 21st through 100th days are increasing from $161 to $164.

The Part B annual deductible is increasing from $166 to $183.

The Part D annual deductible is increasing from $360 to $400.

The Part D annual out-of-pocket limit is increasing from $4,850 to $4,950.


Categories: Medicare

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8 replies »

  1. Not until Medicare will cover for all our health care needs (to which I’m not sure when will it happen), we’ll always have to pay out-of-pocket or obtain Medicare supplements to support the Original ones.


  2. Mr. Quinn, please explain this statement:
    “NOTE: Many beneficiaries are protected from these costs because they have supplemental coverage. Congress is looking at changing the rules so that supplemental plans cannot provide full insulation from out-of-pocket costs.”
    Why does congress want to do this? Can congress tell BCBSIL that they cannot cover all of my out of pocket costs, as they do now? I don’t understand this at all? I know congress is Republicans, but even so, why do they want to do this? Thanks.


    • First, we are talking about supplemental plans sold under Medicare rules (plans A through G I think it is) insurers can only sell plans that fit these options. Congress has been sold the idea that health care costs are high because Americans have such good coverage they don’t and don’t have a reason to care about their health care spending. It’s not just a Republican thing, elements of Obamacare such as the Cadillac tax are based on the same concept. So yes, Congress can change the plans that can be sold to supplement Medicare so that they do not cover the deductibles or pay the coinsurance or they can limit such coverage in some way. Needlessly to say such a change would also lower the supplemental premiums.

      Most people have deductibles and co-pays, it’s only under Medicare that insured can buy coverage for those expenses. My supplemental coverage is through my former employer, but I must satisfy a separate $750 deductible and the 20% is not covered until I incur a total of $10,000 in medical expenses in a year.


      • OK, so you are telling me that congress does have the power to tell BCBSIL what supplemental plan coverages they can sell to me? Congress can stop me from buying the supplemental coverage that I want at any price? But why does congress want to do this?? I still do not understand what is motivating them?? Congress right now does equal Republicans and and Republicans are dedicated to reducing taxes on the most wealthy and making up for the loss of revenue in part by reducing my benefits. That is undeniable.


      • As I said this is not a new issue it’s been talked about for years, by both Dems and Rep. Yes, HHS determines what kind of supplemental plan can be sold to us. If you have essentially no out-of-pocket cost after all your coverage has made a payment, what do you care how much health care you receive or what that care costs to provide, but if you actually pay the 20% then you may care … at least that’s the theory.


      • Well, that theory is FUBAR – if I need medical care, I need it now and I don’t have the time or the inclination to “shop around” for a lower price and suffer during the process – I have been cared for by the same clinic since 1984 – my current doctor took over my care after his father’s death – I have zero out-of-pocket expenses, but the supplemental coverage is expensive – I am fine with thatTell me why you Republicans are adamantly against “big government” in our lives until it comes to health care?? Why do Republicans want to get “big government” out of environmental protection, public education, safety in the workplace, climate change, etc., etc. And yet, Republicans are fine with big government dictating my healthcare options and women’s health options? Your ideology makes no sense and idiotology is all that it can be.


  3. It is a joke, right? Your comments are tongue in cheek here right? Medicare beneficiaries are where the votes are. They are so protected from inflation, it is a joke… it really is.

    Congress learned this lesson in 1988. They passed the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, signed by President Reagan. Then, seniors found out just who would be responsible for paying the cost to improve their own coverage (to put in an out of pocket expense maximum among other provisions). It was the beneficiaries themselves! My gosh! Congress raised taxes on beneficiaries of Medicare to fund specific improvements to Medicare coverage. Congress must have been asleep at the switch – people want someone else to pay for their free stuff. Congress missed the #1 rule in politics – don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that guy behind the tree.

    Seniors called their representatives and let them have it. (Just like yesterday and ethics). Something happened that is so rare that people have a hard time remembering a comparison (I know of only one, IRC 89). Congress repealed most of that legislation (and certainly the tax increase) before it actually took full effect.

    Interestingly, however, Congress heard seniors loud and clear. Seniors wanted protection from out of pocket costs – but they wanted someone else to pay. So, Congress look for and found an option that would shift those costs to someone else in a way that could not be linked back to Congress. They put in place stuff like RBRVS, balance billing limits, DRG’s – price limiters on what providers could charge seniors for their health services. Those limits shifted higher costs seniors should have been paying back to service providers. Health Reform added to those protections and “extended the life” of the Medicare Trust Fund (if you believe PPACA proponents). Those changes had the effect of prompting providers to shift costs, charge higher fees, to those NOT protected by Medicare’s controls (see today’s WSJ editorial page for information about potential for cost shift from Republican proposals to curtail PPACA’s expansion of Medicaid – authored by none other than PPACA creator Ezekiel Emanuel).

    So, Congress put in cost controls on Medicare beneficiary point of purchase cost sharing. The result? Well, from 1966 to 1988, the first 20 or so years of Medicare, the Part A deductible increased from $40 to $540, an average annual increase of 12.56% – an average 12.56% increase EACH YEAR. Since then, from 1988 to 2017, almost 30 years, the average annual increase is 3.12%!!!!!!!!!

    Increased cost sharing for seniors? Baloney! One of the reasons why those under age 65 hae had such significant health inflation is because Congress has been buying seniors votes by sheltering them from the cost of medical services. That is Democrats AND Republicans – see George W. Bush and Medicare Part D where those reaching age 65 in 2005 or earlier avoided as much as 3/4ths of their costs for prescription drug coverage.


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