Bloomberg News

Premiums for Medicare Part B to Rise 3.6% in 2012, U.S. Says

October 27, 2011

(Updates with Social Security costs in third paragraph.)

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- About 45 million retired and disabled people will pay lower-than-projected Medicare premiums for doctor visits and other outpatient services next year, the U.S. said.

Monthly premiums for Medicare’s Part B program will be $99.90 in 2012, a 3.6 percent increase from the current standard payment of $96.40, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said today. That is lower than the $106.60 projected earlier this year by Medicare trustees.

The premium increase will be offset by a projected cost-of- living adjustment to Social Security of about $43 a month next year, officials said. In addition, the Part B deductible will be $140, a $22 decrease from this year.

The announcement may bring relief to senior citizens facing health-care costs that are rising faster than inflation, said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP, a Washington lobby group, in a telephone interview. “Obviously, though, Part B costs are just one part of their total health care costs,” he said.

Medicare’s Part B program covers doctor visits, outpatient hospital services, some home health services and medical equipment. Officials attributed the lower than-expected increase to lower use of services.

Most Medicare beneficiaries have paid $96.40 per month for Part B since 2008, due to a law that freezes premiums in years they don’t receive increases in their Social Security checks. In 2012, those recipients will pay a standard Part B premium of $99.90, amounting to a monthly change of $3.50.

About a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries who pay higher premiums because they recently enrolled or have higher incomes, will see premiums decrease by $15.50 a month, from $115.40.

--Editors: Adriel Bettelheim, Andrew Pollack

To contact the reporter on this story: Carol Eisenberg in Washington at ceisenberg1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adriel Bettelheim at abettelheim@bloomberg.net


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