SAVVY SENIOR: The news on Medicare in 2017 isn’t too bad
Monday, January 16, 2017 2:29 PM
By Jim Miller
Dear Savvy Senior,
I know there won’t be much of a cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year, but what about Medicare? How will the 0.3 percent Social Security raise affect our Part B monthly premiums in 2017?
Considering the rising cost of health care coverage, the news regarding your Medicare costs for 2017 is not too bad. Here’s what you can expect.
Part B premiums
Because the Social Security Administration is giving out a measly 0.3 percent cost of living increase starting in January – that equates to about a $4 to $5 monthly increase on average – the 2017 Part B monthly premium for about 70 percent of Medicare recipients will increase only about $4 to $5.
Thanks to the Social Security Act’s “hold harmless” provision, Medicare cannot pass along premium increases greater than the dollar increase in their Social Security checks.
So, if your Medicare Part B monthly premium is currently $104.90, you can expect it to be around $109 (on average) in 2017. Or, if you signed up for Part B for the first time in 2016, your $121.80 monthly premium will rise to around $127 (on average) next year.
Unfortunately, the hold-harmless provision does not protect all Medicare recipients. New Medicare enrollees (those who will enroll in 2017), beneficiaries who are directly billed for their Part B premium, and current beneficiaries who have deferred claiming their Social Security will pay more.
If you fit into any of these categories, your Medicare Part B premium will be $134 per month in 2017, up from $121.80.
The hold harmless rule also does not protect high-income Medicare beneficiaries who already pay higher Part B premiums because their annual incomes are above $85,000 for an individual or $170,000 for a couple. If you fit into this category, here’s what you’ll pay for your Part B premium next year, based on your 2015 tax returns.
• Individuals with incomes of $85,000 to $107,000, or married couples filing joint tax returns with incomes of $170,000 to $214,000, will pay $187.50 per month.
• Individuals earning $107,000 to $160,000 (couples $214,000 to $320,000) will pay $267.90.
• Individuals with incomes of $160,000 to $214,000 (couples $320,000 to $428,000) will pay $348.30.
• Individuals with incomes over $214,000 or couples above $428,000 will pay $428.60.
Another increase high-income beneficiaries (those with incomes over $85,000, or $170,000 for joint filers) need to be aware of is the surcharge on Part D premiums. Affluent seniors that have a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will pay an additional $13.30 to $76.20 per month, depending on their income, on top of their regular Part D premiums.
Deductibles and co-pays
Other changes that will affect all Medicare beneficiaries include the Part B deductible, which will increase to $183 in 2017 from $166 in 2016. The Part A (hospital insurance) annual deductible will also go up to $1,316 in 2017 (it’s currently $1,288) for hospital stays up to 60 days. That increases to $329 per day for days 61-90, and to $658 a day for days 91 and beyond.
And the skilled nursing facility coinsurance for days 21-100 will also increase to $164.50 per day, up from $161 in 2016.
For more information on all the Medicare costs for 2016 visit Medicare.gov and click on “Find out how much Medicare costs in 2017,” or call 800-633-4227.
Jim Miller is an author and syndicated columnist and a contributor to the NBC "Today" show. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or at savvywenior.org.