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Medicare Premiums Lower Than Expected

The standard Medicare Part B premium for 2012 will be $99.90 a month-the result of a lower-than-expected increase of $3.50 a month for most Beneficiaries. Despite fears that next year’s premium increase could eat up the 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in Social Security checks in 2012, only a small fraction of beneficiaries will have that problem, officials said. “The typical retired worker will have nearly $40 more per month in their pockets next year,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The annual deductible for part B, which covers doctors’ visits and outpatient services, will drop from $162 to $140. Over the past two years, about 75 percent of beneficiaries have paid monthly Part B premiums of $96.40-the same as they paid in 2009-because there was no Social Security COLA in 2010 and 2011 and therefore by law their premiums were frozen. So anyone who paid $96.40 a month this year will pay $3.50 a month more this year. But certain groups of beneficiaries paid monthly premiums of $110.50 will save $10.60 a month, and those paying $115.40 will save $15.50. In addition, people who must pay the higher-income premiums will also see a drop ranging from $21.60 to $49.40 a month, according to income level. – Patricia Barry



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