The reduction in your monthly Social Security check is a reminder that Medicare Part B is not free. Over the years the monthly Part B premium has seen a steady increase.
But for the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries the Part B premium for 2012 is going to be less than expected.
The standard monthly Part B premium for 2012 will be $99.90. This represents a $15.50 decrease over the 2011 Part B monthly premium which was $115.40. This represents a $3.50 monthly premium increase or only 18% of what was expected.
Wealthier beneficiaries will pay a higher Part B premium
Many people will say that requiring the wealthy to pay a higher Part B premium for 2012 is proof that President Obama is re-distributing the wealth. But the truth is that the legislation that requires higher rates for some is contained in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization act of 2003.
Beginning in 2007 the monthly premium that each beneficiary pays is based on his or her annual income. If your modified adjusted gross income income is greater that the legislated threshold amount you will be responsible for a larger portion of the Medicare Part B benefit coverage… i.e. higher premiums.
For 2012 the legislated threshold amount is up to $85,000 for people filling an individual return and up to $170,000 for those filling jointly.
Your 2012 Social Security raise should ease the burden
Your monthly Social Security check will increase 3.6% for 2012 which is a happy event considering the past couple of years. For most people, those not meeting the legislated threshold amount, the increase should more than cover the $3.50 increase in the Part B monthly premium for 2012.
Some would argue that given the increasing cost of living a 3.6% increase is hardly sufficient. But given the current political climate and budget deficit it’s to be expected. The days of getting a rebate from the federal government are probably long gone.
Some other ways to save money on your Medicare expenses
The good news is you have choices related to your Medicare coverage. Here are a few things you can do to find savings:
- Compare Part D plans to be certain you are maximizing savings
- Use mail order pharmacies for Part D drugs whenever possible
- Utilize in-network providers if enrolled in a PPO, HMO, HMO-POS
- Seek out community based programs that offer assistance
- Check for special programs from pharmaceutical companies
Often a little leg work will pay off. This coupled with a raise in your Social Security check and a smaller than expected Part B premium for 2012 should help keep expenses in line.
To learn more about specific Part B premiums for 2012 visit medicare.gov.