Q & A: July 2017

Why Am I Paying So Much For My Medicare?

Q:  I think I’m paying too much for my Medicare Part B premium.  My husband started Medicare and Social Security in 2014 at age 65.  This year he pays about $110.00 per month for his Part B coverage.  I signed up for Medicare Part B in March and pay $134 per month.  I haven’t started Social Security yet because I’m still working.  Why is my premium higher than my husband’s?

 

A:  The amount you are paying for Part B appears to be correct. People who enroll in Medicare in 2017 pay $134.00 per month for the Part B premium. The difference between what you pay for Part B and what your husband pays is likely due to a special provision of law known as “hold harmless,” and the fact that his Medicare Part B premiums are automatically deducted from his Social Security benefit.

For the majority of people who have their Part B premiums automatically deducted from their Social Security benefits, the hold harmless provision protects their Social Security benefit from reduction, when the dollar amount increase in their Medicare Part B premium exceeds the dollar increase of their annual cost–of–living adjustment (COLA). The hold harmless provision protected your husband’s Social Security benefit from the full increase in Medicare Part B premiums this year when it was triggered by the extremely low 0.3% annual COLA for 2017.

I’m guessing from your information that your husband paid $104.90 per month for his Part B last year. In his case the Medicare Part B premium increase to $134.00 was $29.10 per month. However, that was (undoubtedly) higher than the amount the 0.3% COLA increased his Social Security. Under the hold harmless provision, the Medicare Part B premium was adjusted to $110.00 per month to prevent a reduction to his Social Security. This provision of law should save your household $288 this year.

The good news for you is that your Medicare Part B premium may come down next year. On the other hand, your husband’s premium is likely to go up — perhaps by considerably more than it did this year, but no more than the dollar amount of his COLA.

Part B premiums are normally announced in October or November.

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