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Big increase in Medicare costs on the horizon

In what could be the largest increase in Medicare costs since the program's inception, recipients could see their Medicare part B premium skyrocket to 50 percent higher than last year. The New York Times reports that the rise in Medicare costs are closely linked to a 'hold harmless' provision that is impacting Social Security checks, keeping them unchanged for the third year in a row.

According to provisions of the Social Security program, recipients of Social Security that also receive Medicare cannot have a price increase for health coverage greater than their price increase in their Social Security benefit. Since Social Security is stagnant right now, current Medicare recipients are protected from a part B premium increase.

This may sound great, but it's only great for roughly 70 percent of Medicare-eligible people. The other 30 percent will be hit with Medicare part B premiums costing anywhere from $150 to $200 a month. The unprecedented increase is the result of a small portion of the population being responsible for making up a huge portion of the every growing cost of health care.

The concern with how these outrageous part B premiums will impact individuals on fixed incomes has gained the attention of Washington. If Congress doesn't intervene and allow the Medicare program to dip into its contingency reserve, lawmakers fear millions of elderly men and women will avoid getting the help they need because they won't have Medicare part B to cover it.

If left unchanged a Medicare recipient with an annual income over $200,000 could see part B premiums as high as $500 a month. For most individuals, even those with higher incomes this is too much. There are many aspects of Medicare that are complex and often confusing for recipients to understand. For individuals concerned with how this part B premium increase may affect them or to find out if it does, speaking to a knowledgeable attorney can help.

Source: The New York Times, "No Social Security Raises Even if Medicare Soars," Robert Pear, Oct. 15, 2015

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