Medicare Premiums Expected to Rise in 2010


by Mary Jane Stern

Medicare Help, Medicare Cost of Living, COLAThe buzz is that Medicare premiums are expected to rise in 2010 and some will probably see a decrease in their monthly Social Security check.  Unfortunately, it is said that there will be no COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) in 2010 or 2011.

The good news is that there is a “hold harmless” provision of the law. Government estimates project that about 30 million Medicare beneficiaries won’t see any change in their Medicare Part B premium.

Hold Harmless Provision Summary

If, in a given year, the increase in the Part B premium would cause a beneficiary’s Social Security check to be less than it was the year before, the Part B premium is reduced to ensure that the amount of the individual’s Social Security check stays the same.  This hold harmless provision doesn’t protect about 25% of Part B enrollees.

We know that everyone has to pay for Part B, if enrolled.  Unfortunately, there is No Protection for the premiums you pay if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan or the Part D Prescription Plan.

It will be a good idea to compare plans for 2010 if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Humana had an extreme increase in their Part D plan for 2009 and on August 3, 2009, reported by the New York Times, “Humana stated its second-quarter profit rose by 34 percent on the strength of its robust government business, led by Medicare Advantage.”

2010 Part B Estimated Increase

Medicare is estimating that the Part B premium will increase by about $7.80 per month in 2010.  Currently the premium is $96.40 for 2009 and the estimated 2010 premium is $104.20.  Not all, but some seniors are subject to the increase and with estimated increases over the next few years; these seniors could be paying $120.20 per month by 2012.

What about Part D Premium Increases

Part D Prescription Plans are run by private insurance companies, so we have no way of knowing what the increases will be for 2010 until October 15th.  One interesting fact is that Part D premiums increased on average by 24% in 2009.  They have increased about 10% each year since 2006.  What made 2009 so much higher?  Let me know!

What You Can Do To Keep Your Cost Down

Remember, you can find all the plans in your area by going to New premiums for 2010 are generally posted by October 15th, and Open Enrollment begins on November 15th.  In some instances, the private plans might have the 2010 information posted on their website prior to October 15th.

Start planning early.

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