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Why Medicare Part B premiums will go up for some beneficiaries next year

October 7, 2015, 9:49 PM UTC
Doctors Seek Higher Fees From Health Insurers
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 05: A doctor holds a stethoscope on September 5, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Doctors in the country are demanding higher payments from health insurance companies (Krankenkassen). Over 20 doctors' associations are expected to hold a vote this week over possible strikes and temporary closings of their practices if assurances that a requested additional annual increase of 3.5 billion euros (4,390,475,550 USD) in payments are not provided. The Kassenaerztlichen Bundesvereinigung (KBV), the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, unexpectedly broke off talks with the health insurance companies on Monday. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Photograph by Adam Berry — Getty Images

Premiums for about 30% of all Medicare Part B beneficiaries could increase by as much as 52% next year.

Those unlucky patients may go from paying $104.90 per month to $159.30 because of a simple “hold harmless” provision that says premiums can’t go up for Social Security recipients if there’s not cost-of-living adjustment for the given year. That means the 7 million Medicare Part B enrollees that aren’t receiving Social Security will shoulder the burden of premium rises.

The 70% of Medicare Part B users that won’t see a premium increase next year are those people currently receiving Social Security benefits. The premium increase burden will fall, instead, on people who either will enroll in Part B for the first time in 2016, don’t currently collect Social Security, or who are billed directly for their Part B premium.

As Mark Lumia, founder of True Wealth Group, put it in an interview with USA Today: “Under current law, Part B premiums for other beneficiaries must be raised enough to offset premiums foregone due to the hold harmless provision.”