Medicare Part B premiums will stay flat for most in 2016

Most people with Medicare Part B will be exempt from any increase in premiums in 2016 and will pay the same monthly premium as they did last year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Beneficiaries who are not receiving Social Security benefits, those who will enroll in Part B for the first time in 2016, dual-eligible beneficiaries who have their premiums paid by Medicaid, and beneficiaries who pay an additional income-related premium will pay slightly more for their Medicare Part B in 2016, according to a CMS announcement. The Medicare Part B deductible will also rise to $166 next year, up from the current $147.

"Our goal is to keep Medicare Part B premiums affordable … 52 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Part B will be either flat or substantially less than they otherwise would have been," said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in the announcement. "Affordability for Medicare enrollees is a key goal of our work building a healthcare system that delivers better care and spends healthcare dollars more wisely."

Given that there is no Social Security cost-of-living increase next year, most beneficiaries are protected by law from Medicare premium increases through a provision known as "hold harmless." They will pay a Part B premium increase of $104.90, the same they paid last year.

A recently approvied two-year budget agreement prevented a 52 percent Medicare premium increase that would have affected more than 8 million Part B enrollees in 2016. While this is good news for these beneficiaries, wealthy seniors will pay a modest increase in the form of a "loan" that they will need to pay back over the next nine years, FierceHealthPayer has reported.

To learn more:
- read the CMS announcement