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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Health Insurance Premiums to Increase for Some in Medicare Part B

October 20, 2016 | Medicare | Comments
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Health insurance premiums are expected to increase significantly for about 30% of Medicare Part B beneficiaries, as the result of a 0.3 percent Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) announced earlier this week. While most Medicare Part B beneficiaries will not be affected by this change, the impacted group includes: high-income beneficiaries, new enrollees, enrollees not collecting Social Security benefits, and the millions of dually eligible beneficiaries whose Part B premiums are paid by state Medicaid programs.

Social Security benefits and Medicare Part B premiums are linked together through a “hold harmless” provision in the Social Security Act. This provision limits the increase in an individual’s monthly Medicare Part B premium to the increase in an individual’s Social Security benefit.  However, when the Social Security COLA is not large enough to allow for full payment of the Part B premium by beneficiaries subject to the “hold harmless” provision, the remaining 30 percent of beneficiaries have their Part B premiums increased to make up the difference.

Last year, through passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Congress averted a significant increase in Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles for the 30% beneficiary cohort. In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) assured that he will “be looking at every option in the days ahead” to ensure that Medicare costs remain “affordable and stable.”

CMS is expected to release the final 2017 Part B monthly premium rates and annual deductible this fall.  Stay tuned to the Capitol Connector for more.