Big Price Hikes for Medicare Premiums in 2016

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By Martha Lynn Craver

Retirees, adjust your budget: Double-digit price hikes for Medicare Part B premiums are coming next year.

The actual rates for Part B (which covers the costs of doctor visits and outpatient care) will be announced in October and take effect Jan. 1. The boost may be 15 percent for all participants or a whopping 52 percent for some, depending on whether Social Security recipients see a cost-of-living raise for 2016.

If Social Security checks are increased, everybody will pay more for Part B, bumping the monthly premium to $120.70 from $104.90 to cover higher expenses. That's the scenario for a 15 percent increase in costs.

But without a raise in Social Security benefits, higher Medicare fees couldn't be charged to most folks. So the larger increase would apply to about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries:
  • Those who enroll in Part B in 2016
  • People who don't have their premiums deducted from Social Security payments
  • Individuals with annual incomes above $85,000
  • People eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid
For the last group, known as "dual eligibles," Part B premiums are paid by the state where they live.

Medicare beneficiaries in these groups would see bills jump to $159.30 a month unless the Obama administration took steps to lessen the pain. That's possible, but not certain.
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