Federal Employees Could Face Higher Medicare Premiums

Rising Medicare Costs

MedicareA law fluke could cause a price hike in Medicare costs for individuals receiving federal retirement benefits. This hike could affect several hundred thousand retired federal employees. The law fluke conspiring with low inflation rates could see retirees paying a significantly more per month for Medicare premiums than other retirees receiving the benefits do. Projections show that the increased premiums for retired federal employees could jump beginning in late 2016. According to a Medicare report, the premiums will not increase until October and some 70 percent of recipients will not even see a premium increase. However, the vast majority of the 30 percent of do are recipients of federal benefits, according to an article in the Washington Post.

Unqualified for “Hold Harmless”

The reason retired federal employees would see the increase is because most individuals who take part in the Civil Service Retirement System, do not qualify for the “hold harmless” provision, which helps maintain a Medicare Part B premium steady, if social security benefits do not increase to help offset the increased cost of medical coverage. This provision is designed to help keep Medicare affordable. Low inflation prices have the rate indicator (which also helps determine military retirement benefits payments) is current at negative 0.2 percent. Despite the low number, recent indications show that positive numbers may be in the future. Combined with a low projected cost of living adjustment, the indicator predicts rates increases could fall into effect later next year.

While the vast majority of Medicare recipients will not see an increase, the 30 percent who do, including retired federal employees, will likely include new Part B enrollees, individuals with no social security premium and individuals with an income-related premium. Projections for this increase are due in part to a possible low cost of living adjustment for social security recipients. If the cost of living adjustment does not provide enough to cover the additional cost of Medicare, individuals who qualify for the “hold harmless” clause will not have to foot the cost of the additional fees. However, those who do not qualify for hold harmless will have higher premium rates to offset the loss of those extra premiums.

CSRS equals no protection

Because most of the individuals who utilize the CSRS do not receive social security, they are not even eligible for any protection against rate increases. This leaves the burden of offsetting the low cost of living adjustment on their shoulders. While some retired federal employees utilizing the CSRS do receive social security via another employer, an estimated 800,000 retirees on the CSRS could have to pay higher premium rates next year. Some estimates say that there may not even be any COLA this year, which could increase the cost of premiums even more. ‘

Retired federal employees do not have to enroll in Medicare because they are covered via the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHB). However, many employees opt for Medicare at age 65 to receive better benefits. If they opt not to pay the higher premium, they could still receive coverage from FHBP.


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