According to an article in Kaiser Health News, Medicare trustees are projecting that 30 percent of seniors will see a 52-percent increase in Part B premiums in January 2016, taking their monthly Part B premiums from $104.90 to $159.30. The unusually high increase is due to two factors: the increase in the costs of running the Part B program, and a quirk in the Medicare law. By law, in a year when seniors see no cost of living increase in their Social Security benefit – as 2016 is expected to be – they may not suffer a Part B premium increase, unless they’re new to Medicare (2.8 million people in 2016) or they earn more than $85,000 (3.1 million people) or they don’t deduct their Part B premiums directly from Social Security (1.6 million people). The 7.5 million Part B enrollees who meet one of these three conditions will see premiums leap by 52 percent. Everyone else will see premiums remain flat at $104.90. But 2016 Part B deductibles are also projected to increase by 52 percent from $147/year to $223/year, and that would affect everyone.
If over the next several months Social Security decides on a cost of living adjustment that’s greater than zero, these Part B rate increases can be spread over everyone rather than borne by the unlucky 30 percent.