Makin' Money

Medicare enrollment, Part Two

Chris Farrell Nov 16, 2010

You would think dealing with health insurance would get easier when your older, right? Wrong. I remember my Dad telling me that because of all his years in business he was comfortable with numbers. And his mind was sharp. But he spent hours on Medicare and wondered how anyone who wasn’t numerate with deteriorating faculties dealt with the complexity. He always said it was wrong. He was right, too.

That said, it’s the world we have at the moment. So, the Segal Company, a benefits consulting firm, sent out a note that the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium and deductible will increase for 2011 by slightly more than 4 percent (that’s less than the 14 percent increase between 2009 and 2010.)

Now, most Medicare beneficiaries will pay the same $96.40 premium they paid in 2010 because of a hold-harmless provision in the law. It takes into account the fact that Social Security benefits for the second year in a row will not increase in 2011. But not everyone. About a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries cannot take advantage of the hold-harmless provision. Their Medicare Part B premiums are not withheld from Social Security. Instead, their Part B premiums are paid on behalf of Medicaid, and they are subject to the income-related additional premium. New enrollees will also pay higher premiums. .

There’s more: Since 2007, high-income Medicare-eligible individuals pay a monthly Part B premium that is higher than the standard premium and depends upon their modified adjusted gross income and income tax-filling status.

Like in 2010, Part A premiums will increase by just under 3 percent, since 2010 spending was lower than expected and the Affordable Care Act implemented policies that lower Part A spending.

In 2011, there will be an income-related monthly adjustment for enrollees in Part D prescription drug plans. Part D enrollees whose incomes exceed the thresholds established for Part B will be required to pay their regular Part D premium to their plan and also to pay an income-related adjustment to Medicare.

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