WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicare premiums are going up $5 a month in 2013, the government said Friday. The increase is less than expected, but it’s still high enough to eat up about one-fourth of a typical retiree’s cost-of-living raise next year.
Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said the new “Part B” premium for outpatient care will be $104.90 a month. In most cases, the premium is deducted directly from a beneficiary’s monthly Social Security check. The premium is now $99.90 a month.
Earlier this year, the government projected an increase of as much as $9 for 2013, but health care inflation has remained modest.
Still, advocates for the elderly didn’t see much to cheer about, particularly since Medicare cuts are on the table in budget negotiations between President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress. Obama has promised to protect beneficiaries, but even his plan calls for upper-income retirees to pay more.
“These increases aren’t as big as projected, but they are still increases,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a New York-based advocacy group. “Our fear is that as policymakers discuss deficit reduction, they’ll pile even more costs on to seniors.”
High-income beneficiaries, those making above $85,000 a year individually or $170,000 for a couple, will face bigger increases. They will pay an additional $42 to $230.80 a month, depending on income. Most low-income beneficiaries have their premiums paid by Medicaid.