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Medicare Part B Premium Increase Lower Than Expected
Date:10/27/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The premium new Medicare patients will pay for part B benefits in 2012 will be less than expected and the Part B deductible will also be $22 lower, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

However, for those already on Medicare that premium will represent an increase. Since 2008, most people with Medicare have paid a monthly premium of $96.40, because a law froze Part B premiums in years when there was no cost-of-living increase in Social Security. In 2012, those people will pay $99.90.

"After two years of no increases in Medicare Part B premiums, premiums for most beneficiaries will go up next year, just $3.50 a month, far less than the $10 increase that was forecasted," Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said during a noon news conference.

"That means that Part B premiums in Medicare have risen just over 3 percent in the last four years. That's pretty remarkable," she said.

The deductible will also drop down to $140. Part B is the part of Medicare that covers parts of doctor visits, outpatient care, some medical equipment and some preventive care.

The 2012 premium is $15.50 less than 2011 premium of $115.40 paid by people entering Medicare and those already in Medicare with higher incomes.

The premium increase is also offset by an increase in a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, according to the agency.

"Since we have kept next year's premium increase lower than the cost-of-living adjustment to seniors' Social Security benefits, the typical retired worker will have nearly $40 more per month in their pocket next year," Sebelius said.

The average Social Security increase will be $43 a month, far larger than the $3.50 premium increase.

Medicare Part A benefits, which cover hospitals, nursing homes and some home health care, will go up by $1, to $451 a m
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