Medicare premiums going up, Social Security checks going down

Many seniors will see their Social Security check go down because their Medicare Part D (prescription plans) and their Medicare Part C (also known as Medicare Advantage) plans are expected to go up in cost. Since Social Security is not expected to provide a cost of living increase (COLA) this year for the first time in 25 years, this rise in medical premiums will actually mean many seniors will get a lower Social Security check because premiums for most seniors are taken out of this check.

Congress is considering a one time payment of $250 for singles and $500 for couples to help offset the rising costs seniors face for medical care, prescription drugs, energy and food. But whether or not that will really cover a senior's increases will depend upon where they live and who their Medicare provider is.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Medicare Part D plans are expected to increase an average of 7% plus about 60% of available plans will have an annual deductible in 2010 ($310 is standard). Only 45% had an annual deductible last year.

In addition fewer Medicare Part D programs will be offering coverage in the doughnut hole. Once spending for a senior's drugs tops $2,830 (and that includes both what the senior pays and the insurer pays), the senior enters the doughnut hole and can't get out of it until spending reaches $6,440. Not many seniors escape the doughnut hole once they get into it. When in the doughnut hole, seniors get no coverage for their prescription drugs.