Medicare Part B premiums to increase 23 percent for many seniors

According to a recent report by CNBC, Medicare Part B premiums are expected to rise for millions of seniors across the country in 2018, putting even more financial strain on elders trying to enjoy their golden years while living on fixed incomes. The increased costs means many seniors should prepare to pay more for their doctors visits and outpatient care.


An estimated 70 percent of Medicare Part B enrollees paying lower monthly premiums due to the “hold harmless” rule will likely see their monthly premiums jump from $25 to $134, over the average of $109 per month in 2017. The hold harmless provision is a legal clause that prevents an individual’s premiums from rising more than their Social Security cost of living adjustment for that year.


The extra amount enrollees pay will go towards paying the full amount of the $134 Part B premium and fortunately, for an estimated 28 percent of those individuals, they will still pay below that capped amount. Even higher income earners, those making $85,000 or more, will remain unchanged with rates varying from $187.50 to $428.60.


Additionally, the Medicare Part A annual inpatient hospital deductible that beneficiaries pay when they are admitted to the hospital will go up $24 to $1,340 in 2018 from $1,316 in 2017. Seniors can expect good news for Medicare Part C and Part D in 2018, as those costs have already been finalized and will not increase next year.


To get a better idea of whether your Medicare expenses will rise or fall next year, start by subtracting your current Part B premium from the maximum $134. Next, multiply your current monthly Social Security benefit by 2 percent. Your increase should be the small of these two numbers, which you will add to your current 2017 Part B premium to determine your 2018 Part B premium costs.


While some of this may seem confusing, it is important to stay up to date on as the sometimes tumultuous nature of Medicare benefits often makes it harder on seniors to get access to quality healthcare and highlights the importance of proper planning for their retirements. Unfortunately, some seniors can find themselves in the difficult position of having too much wealth to qualify for Medicaid but too little income to cover their Medicare premiums and prescription drugs.


In certain situations, even well off retirees may need to spend down their assets overtime to qualify for Medicaid assistance to help pay for living a nursing home or a home health care aid. If not done properly, the spend down could incur penalties and it is strongly encouraged seniors educate themselves on Medicaid and Medicare rules to avoid penalties or hardship.

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