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Good news for Medicare recipients in 2016

Earlier this year many seniors were concerned with the projected prices for Medicare part B. Initially, Medicare part B monthly premiums were projected to increase by some 30 percent for new enrollees. However, thanks to a bipartisan budget act signed into law in November, roughly 70 percent of the U.S.'s Medicare beneficiaries will not see a Medicare part B premium increase in 2016. The other 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries that had anticipated paying much more for part B will actually pay much less than experts previously thought.

Current Medicare enrollees have a part B premium that is directly tied to the cost of living. With no cost of living increase expected for 2016, Medicare part B premiums for current enrollees will not go up either. For these individuals, Medicare part B premium will stay at $104.90 monthly.

Individuals who are new to Medicare in 2016, are directly billed for their premium or have deferred Social Security, will see an increase in their part B plan premium. These individuals will see a part B premium of $121.80 a month beginning in 2016. While this increase may irritate some new enrollees, the new plan premium is still much less than the original projected amount. The premium would have been $159.30 had the bipartisan budget act not been signed into law.

This new projected part B plan premium will apply to enrollees that stay under the income cap of $85,000 annually per person or $170,000 annually per couple. Individuals with incomes above this cap will see an increase in their plan premium. Among the plan changes for high-income individuals, is a part D drug plan premium surcharge.

Even though most of the changes to Medicare in 2016 can be seen as an improvement from the original projected changes, there are still many elements of Medicare that are complex and difficult to understand. For individuals concerned with how the 2016 Medicare changes will affect them, speaking to an attorney may help.

Source: NewsOK, "Savvy Senior: Medicare may be more costly in 2016," Jim Miller, Dec. 14, 2015

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