On October 27, 2011, the US Department of Human Services announced the new Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2012. Part B premiums will be $99.90. This is a much lower rate than anticipated. Folks that just started receiving Medicare benefits in 2011 were paying $115.40/month; they will start paying the new $99.90 amount. Older beneficiaries will see an increase from their $96.40 premium they've been paying since 2008. That $3.50/month increase is modest and will likely be offset by SSA's COLA increase (see older post for more info on the COLA increase).
Here are some of the other changes:
Part B deductible: $140
Hospital deductible: $1,156
Hospital co-pay for days 61-90: $289/day
Hospital co-pay for days 90-150: $578/day
Skilled nursing home co-pay for days 21-100: $144.50/day
Recently I read that half of all Medicare beneficiaries receive less than $22,000/year in income (www.kff.org/medicare/upload/8172.pdf). For most beneficiaries, these numbers will be a relief because there are no significant increases for 2012 Medicare costs. In light of the attention "entitlement spending" has gotten, I am relieved more cost-shifting to beneficiaries did not occur this time. Who knows what will happen in 2012 if Republicans get their way (Washington Post blog post; Forbes's report on Coburn and Lieberman's Reform Proposal; Kaiser's review of GOP's options for Medicare)?
Amid the discussion of changes in Medicare costs, remember that there are programs to help beneficiaries pay for their premiums and deductibles. Find out more at www.benefitscheckup.org