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The federal government announced that the standard Medicare Part B premium will remain unchanged in 2018, but millions of Social Security recipients will still end up paying more. How is this possible?
For several years, many beneficiaries already have been paying less because of a rule linking payments to Social Security increases. The so-called “hold harmless” rule prevents increases in Medicare premiums from decreasing a person’s Social Security benefit from year to year. Because there was no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to increase Social Security checks in 2016 and only a 0.3% COLA in 2017, the hold harmless rule has kept many people from experiencing the higher premiums for Part B, which covers outpatient services and preventative services.
But in 2018, Social Security recipients will see a 2% increase in their checks. The standard Medicare Part B premium will remain unchanged at $134 in 2018. Despite the stable premium, for 70% of Part B enrollees who had been paying a lower monthly premium because of the hold harmless rule, their monthly cost will jump in 2018 by as much as $25, from the average of $109 in 2017.
Part B premiums can vary by income. While most people will pay the standard premium amount, some people will pay more, including those who make above a certain amount as reported on their IRS statement two years ago.
What you end up paying for Medicare depends on many factors, including whether you’re enrolled in both Social Security and Medicare, if you have Medicaid and if you’re directly billed for your Part B premiums.
To see how you may be affected and to see other Medicare numbers released recently, read this PBS News Hour article.
While you can’t control what the government sets for Medicare rates, you can review your Medicare plans each year during open enrollment — Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 — to stay informed and make some adjustments to control costs. Medicare’s Open Enrollment is when Medicare recipients can make changes to their Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage for the next year.
If you have any questions, call Medicare MarketPlace® at 1-800-639-0781 to speak to a Licensed Insurance Agent.