The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) are due to release the Medicare premium amounts on October 1st, 2016. The website MedigapPlanners.com warns there may be a substantial increase coming. According to their recent post, some projections are indicating an increase as high as 22% for the Medicare Part B premium. An increase of that percent would raise rates from $121.80 to $149 a month starting January 1st, 2017.
The current law, known as the "Hold Harmless" provision, protects seniors from receiving an increase in their Part B premium that is higher than their Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
The estimated COLA for 2017 is 0.2%.
Approximately 70% of those on Medicare will be protected from a large Part B increase under the law, but "Hold Harmless" doesn't apply to everyone. Leaving the remaining 30% to carry the burden.
In 2015, Congress intervened and stopped the planned 52% premium hike for 2016.
With healthcare costs on the rise and a rapidly increasing senior population, this can't go on forever. Still, many in the industry are expecting Congress to act again.
Legislation has been passed to control costs.
Since 2007, high-income individuals have been paying significantly more for their Part B premiums.
Those in the highest bracket could see an increase from $387 to $467 a month in 2017.
When the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 goes into effect in 2018, income thresholds to be considered high-income will be lowered, and many individuals will pay a higher Medicare Part B Deductible. The same law requires the phasing out of Medicare Supplement Plans C and F in 2020.
It would seem Medicare hasn't gotten the attention it deserves this election cycle. As the new changes to the program are incorporated, we are likely to hear a lot more from our representatives in the coming years.