Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2012 have been announced by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Of special interest is that the Medicare Part B (Supplemental Medical Insurance) premium will be $99.90 per month in 2012, a decrease of $15.50 over the 2011 base premium of $115.40.
Depending on when they enrolled in Medicare, a person might now be paying a Part B base premium amount of $96.40, $110.50 or $115.40 so the new 2012 amount can reflect either increase or decrease. The reason is related to Social Security benefit cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).
By law, Social Security benefits are adjusted automatically to keep pace with inflation. However, as in 2010 and 2011, when there is no COLA increase in Social Security benefits, there could still be a Medicare Part B premium increase. There is a provision in the law referred to as “hold harmless” that protects most, not all, Social Security beneficiaries from a reduction in their net monthly SSA benefit based on an increase in the Medicare Part B premium. Due to this provision, about 75 percent of SSA beneficiaries did not see a reduction in their monthly benefit over the past two years even though the Medicare Part B premium increased in 2010 and 2011.
Some higher income Medicare beneficiaries have Part B premiums above the base premium level. The “hold harmless” provision does not include them.
A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) fact sheet contains detailed information about Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2012. Read it at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp. Charts presenting 2012 information on also on the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov.