Medicare’s basic monthly premium for 2012

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that Medicare Part B premiums in 2012 will be less than previous projections and the Part B deductible will reduce by $22. While the Medicare Trustees expected monthly premiums would be $106.60, premiums will instead be $99.90 a month for 2012, or about $7 less than anticipated as recently as May. Earlier this year, HHS announced that average Medicare Advantage premiums would diminish by four percent and premiums paid for Medicare’s prescription drug plans would not see any change. So, most seniors will pay an additional $3.50 a month next year, instead of $10.20, as forecast earlier.

Medicare’s Part B annual deductible, the amount beneficiaries pay before their coverage begins, will also drop to $140, a decrease of $22. Premiums have been frozen at the 2008 level of $96.40 a month for about three-fourths of Medicare beneficiaries. That was due to the lack of a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment during the depths of the economic downturn. The Part B premium is one number that most of the 49 million people on Medicare can connect with. Upper-income retirees pay more, and premiums for low-income beneficiaries are covered by Medicaid. But middle-class beneficiaries on tight budgets have a lot to depend on the Part B figure.

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