Medicare Part B Premiums May Soar for Some
The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and most recently USA Today have covered the story of what MAY happen to 2016 Medicare Part B premium increases. I have been reluctant to write because I believe the government will try to mitigate the increases reported. Nevertheless, with the government announcement upon us, I am writing to provide information on this important subject.
Everyone on Medicare Part B, except for lower-income Americans, pays a Part B premium. Medicare Part B premiums tend to increase a modest amount over time but 2016 could be a fluky year for increases as reported in the recent press.
What may cause an odd distortion for 2016 is that government officials are predicting no cost of living adjustment for those on Social Security. By law, if you are on Social Security and there is no cost of living adjustment, a Part B premium increase cannot be passed on to you that year because such an increase would reduce your income. We should know what will happen later in October.
Who Is Negatively Affected
If there is no cost of living adjustments or some other remedy, then all those NOT ON SOCIAL SECURITY or paying income-indexed amounts as well as those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid would pay the entire cost of Part B increases. Projections reported in the press citing government sources say the base monthly premium of $104.90 this year could go to $159.30 for those not on Social Security. At the highest income levels, individuals are paying $335.70 per month which is projected could go to over $509.80 per month.
How Likely Is this to Happen?
It’s impossible to know BUT it is likely that government officials are working hard to prevent such increases. They would be particularly burdensome for states which pay the Part B premium for those on Medicaid. There is great pressure from the states to prevent this from happening.
How Can I Protect Myself from these Increases?
People who are not taking Social Security who report income under $85,000 as an individual or $170,000 as a couple could decide to take Social Security to join the “protected class” but that means accepting a lower monthly payment if one had planned to defer as long as possible. There is nothing a higher-income individual could do to avoid paying additional premiums.
What if My Income is above the $85,000 or $170,000 for a Couple?
Again, there is nothing you can do but wait to hear what is decided. The only good news is that the situation should moderate in 2017 with all beneficiaries paying to support increased Part B premiums.