There are over 50 million elderly Americans that depend on medicare for health services, and physician care. Nearly a third of those elders, equating to about 17 million, are worried to see their premiums jump over 52% in 2016. Premiums may rise because the odd nature of the law that punishes the richest legatees and others whenever the Social Security Administration fails to raise the annual cost of living adjustments. Although congress is focused on addressing incoming falls, in the Social Security Disability Insurance program, it may be too late because of a developing issue in Medicare Part B; the premium-based government health insurance program that takes care of elders’ doctors visits out-patient both care and durable medical equipment.
An analysis by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College states that over 15 million elders, first-time legatees, or those dual Medicare and Medicaid coverage from seeing their premiums rise from $104.90 to $159.30 monthly. The only way to prevent this is if Congress or Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell gets in the way. Even higher paid couples would pay even more of that increase, making health services and various cares almost a burden. According to a representative for the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services, a premium hike is currently being considered, although a decision will not be reached until the end of the year.
“Approximately 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are expected not to see a premium increase in 2016,” stated the representative, “the remaining 30 percent of beneficiaries would pay a higher premium based on this projection.”
CMS is seeking its ways to find a way to lessen the effect of the major premium spike in 2016, even though officials claim that the federal agency has no authority to extend beyond what the law demands. The possible rate hike has not had much attention until recently. A Center for Retirement Research study says that the “complicated interaction” between Medicare premiums and the remainder of Social Security funds that are used for retirements and non-health related spendings. This is the third time since 1975 that Social Security will not increase the cost of living benefit for another year due to the Consumer Price Index remaining flat. Because Social Security COLAs do not “fully reflect the increase in health care costs faced by the elderly,” the study notes, missed annual costs may begin a decrease in the Medicare B program.
“Because the COLA for Social Security benefits is expected to be zero for 2016, premiums would not increase for the 70 percent protected by the hold harmless provision,” the study notes. “Under current law, Part B premiums for other beneficiaries must be raised enough to offset premiums foregone due to the hold-harmless provision.”