It’s official. For most seniors the tiny 0.3% cost of living increase they will receive next year will be wiped out by an equally small increase in Medicare Part B premiums.
Premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers medically necessary services such as doctor visits, will cost $109 a month in 2017, up from $104.90 for the past four years, for about 70% of seniors, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Those seniors will benefit from a “hold harmless” provision in the law which ensures that Medicare B premiums cannot rise more than the previous year’s cost of living increase in Social Security benefits.
(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Tiny Social Security COLA to Pinch Seniors as Medicare Costs Surge)
Premiums for the remaining 30% of beneficiaries, however, will jump 10% in 2017 to $134 a month, from $121.80.
The “hold harmless” provision applies only to beneficiaries who receive Social Security benefits. It does not apply to those who are enrolled in Part B for the first time; are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, which pays their Medicare B premiums; or are subject to higher Medicare premiums because their income exceeds $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for couples filing jointly.
In addition to the changes in Medicare premiums, CMS announced a higher annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries in 2017 and for Medicare Part A in-patient hospital costs.