Nearly a third of the roughly 50 million elderly Americans who depend on Medicare for their physician care and other health services could see their premiums jump by 52 percent or more next year. That’s because of a quirk in the law that punishes wealthier beneficiaries and others any time the Social Security Administration fails to boost the annual cost of living adjustment.
While Congress is largely focused on addressing looming shortfalls in the Social Security Disability Insurance program, a financial time-bomb of sorts may go off in 2016 because of the festering premium problem in Medicare Part B – the premium-based government health insurance program that covers seniors’ visits to doctors and other health care providers, out-patient care and durable medical equipment.
Unless Congress or Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell intervenes, an estimated 15 million seniors, first-time beneficiaries or those currently claiming dual Medicare and Medicaid coverage will see their premiums jump from $104.90 per month to $159.30 for individuals, according to an analysis by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Higher-income couples would pay multiples of that increase.
A spokesperson for the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday confirmed that the premium hike is in the works, although a final decision won’t be made until later this year. While approximately 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries “are expected not to see a premium increase in 2016,” he stressed, “the remaining 30 percent of beneficiaries would pay a higher premium based on this projection.”... READ MORE