On Monday, November 1, President Obama signed legislation that averts what, for many federal retirees, would have been a very large increase in their Medicare Part B insurance premiums. Instead of facing a $50 plus increase, federal retirees who do not receive Social Security payments will see an increase of about $19 a month. This includes a $15.80 a month increase in their basic premium, plus a $3 monthly surcharge.
Retirees whose Social Security income covers their Medicare Part B premiums will see no increase. Current law limits the increases in Medicare insurance premiums that Social Security recipients must pay.
Increases in Medicare premiums may be no larger than a recipient’s increase in Social Security payments. For the 2016 calendar year, there will be no increase in Social Security payments, consequently Social Security recipients are protected from 2016 increases in Medicare Part B premiums.
However, this “hold harmless” provision only applies to retirees whose Social Security income pays their Medicare Part B insurance. Before the November 1 legislation became law, other Medicare Part B beneficiaries would have faced a premium increase from $104.90 to $159.30 per month.
No such “hold harmless” protection exists for Federal retirees who do not get Social Security. Without a change in legislation, these retirees would have had to pay the extra $50 plus in monthly Part B premiums.
To offset lower revenue for the Medicare Trust Fund, Medicare beneficiaries will pay a $3 per month surcharge, for about five years beginning in 2016. Social Security recipients will not pay the $3 surcharge in 2016. However they will pay the surcharge in any future years when their “hold harmless” provision does not apply.
The November 1 legislation reflected a broad-ranging budget and debt-limit agreement negotiated between the President and the Congress. The legislation avoids a default on U.S. Government debt payments. It also raises caps on federal defense and non-defense spending. An additional provision of this legislation caps the increases in Medicare premiums.
— by John Zottoli