Good news is hard to come by in this economy, but seniors can celebrate the final numbers on next year's
The Social Security COLA and Medicare Part B premium go hand in hand, since the premium cost is deducted from most seniors' benefits. And while it was already known that the Social Security COLA for 2012 would be 3.6 percent, it wasn't clear how big a bite Part B would take from the increase.
The official numbers may not merit the full hats-and-party-streamer treatment, considering how rough the economy has been for many older Americans the past few years. But they should be welcome news, nonetheless.
The base 2012 premium for Medicare Part B (doctor visits and other outpatient services) will be
The government had been forecasting a
But don't chalk up the lower-than-expected
Part B premiums rose sharply in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, the base premium jumped to
Premiums cover 25 percent of Part B program costs. But the "hold harmless" provision meant that in 2010 and 2011, that cost was borne by a much more narrow base of beneficiaries--low-income beneficiaries whose premiums are paid by
The high-income premiums are paid by individuals with
High income seniors have been hit in a couple different ways over the past two years. They already pay additional premium surcharges based on their income levels, and their base premiums and and surcharges were greater than they would have been absent the "hold harmless" provision.
But the high-income group will see significant relief next year. Their base premiums will fall to the new 2012 level of
The Part B news comes as the fall
Average premiums for prescription drug and
High income seniors also pay surcharges for Part D prescription drug plans, but those won't be changing significantly next year.
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Personal Finance - Small Medicare Premium Hike Improves Senior's Social Security COLA
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