The majority of people with Medicare have paid $96.40 per month for Part B since 2008, due to a law that freezes Part B premiums in years where beneficiaries do not receive cost-of-living (COLA) increases in their Social Security checks. In 2012, these people with Medicare will pay the standard Part B premium of $99.90, amounting to a monthly change of $3.50 for most people with Medicare. This increase will be offset for almost all seniors and people with disabilities by the additional income they will receive thanks to the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). For example, the average COLA for retired workers will be about $43 a month, which is substantially greater than the $3.50 premium increase for affected beneficiaries. Additionally, the Medicare Part B deductible will be $140, a decrease of $22 from 2011.
Medicare premium increases, Part B premiums in 2014
There is no question Medicare premiums are going up and up as are Medicare taxes. But to blame that on Obamacare is misdirected. Premiums are going up primarily because of the underlying use of health care services by a growing Medicare population and by the cost of each of those services.
Medicare Part B Premium 2014
But Koko Mackin, the company’s vice president of corporate communications, has repudiated the message. "It contains incorrect information received by an employee who redistributed it to six others," he told reporters. "We have a longstanding policy against distributing chain emails like this, and actions have been taken to reinforce this policy. We apologize for any confusion or concern this email may have caused."
Annual Statistical Supplement, 2011
d. Standard premium rate for voluntary enrollment by certain aged and disabled individuals not otherwise entitled to Hospital Insurance (HI). (Most individuals aged 65 and older and many disabled individuals under age 65 are insured for HI benefits without payment of any premium.) Beginning in 1994, a reduced premium is available to premium-paying HI enrollees with at least 30 quarters of Medicare-covered employment (either their own or through a current or former spouse if the marriage meets certain duration criteria). In most cases, a surcharge applies for beneficiaries who enroll after their initial enrollment period.
Medicare Advantage 2014 Spotlight: Plan Availability and Premiums
While many organizations offer Medicare Advantage plans, a few – particularly Humana, United Healthcare, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) affiliates – have particularly large geographic spread and these organizations historically account for a disproportionate share of enrollment. In 2014, 44 percent of available plans are being offered by one of these three firms or affiliates (Table A4). Plans offered by these firms are available to most beneficiaries. Nationwide, 83 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to one or more Humana plans, 73 percent will have access to a BCBS affiliated plan (including BCBS plans offered by Wellpoint), and 68 percent will have access to a United Healthcare plan (Exhibit 5; Table A5). The general availability of these firms’ products has not noticeably changed from 2013 to 2014. However, the similarities in BCBS offerings from 2013 to 2014 obscure a decline in availability of BCBS branded Wellpoint plans (declining from 88 plans to 55 plans between 2013 and 2014), which is mostly offset by the growth in plans offered by other BCBS affiliates (growing from 205 plans to 233 plans between 2013 and 2014).
How to Reform Medicare: First Stage to Fix the Current Program
The significant differences in official long-term projections, including projections of the program’s unfunded liability, reflect the differences in agency assumptions, particularly about the likelihood of the continuation of current law. The Medicare Trustees and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are required to make projections under current law, which assumes, for example, that the large Medicare Part A payment reductions are sustainable and that the projected 29.4 percent reduction in Medicare physician payment will be implemented in 2012. The Office of the Actuary in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) makes projections based on the premise that key elements of current law are simply “unworkable.” See John D. Shatto and M. Kent Clemens, “Projected Medicare Expenditures Under an Illustrative Scenario with Alternative Payment Updates to Medicare Providers,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, May 13, 2011, at https://www.cms.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/2010TRAlternativeScenario.pdf (September 19, 2011).