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FAQ: Medicare Part B Premiums and the COLA Issue

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An agent asks, “I sell Medicare products, and I see premiums rising at different rates when I know the clients’ incomes are almost equal, and not above $75,000. Are there other criteria involved?”

A: Yes, namely timing. People pay different rates for the Medicare Part B premium, even if their income does not exceed the set thresholds ($85,000 for singles and $170,000 for couples). What is in play here is a bit of government doublespeak. Since Social Security cost-of-living adjustments have not been applied in the last couple of years, the Medicare part B premium has not increased for people who were already receiving Social Security benefits. Therefore, if someone on Social Security paid $96.40 for Part B when they enrolled two years ago, they are likely still paying that today. However, people who went on Part B in 2010 pay $110.50, and those who went on Part B in 2011 pay $115.40. The unanswered question here is whether, once the COLA payments resume, those paying $96.40 will be forced to pay at current levels – something that remains to be seen.

Source: Rafael Iglesias, Secure Financial Concepts

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