There is a Post in the BLOG bemoaning the "fact" that zero COLA will be accompanied by an increase in our Medicare premium.
Well, perhaps not, due to the "Hold Harmless" provision which protects the vast majority of our residents. Please read the following News article and rig for some confusion.
Lack of Social Security COLA may cap some Medicare premiums
By Bob Moos
The Dallas Morning News (MCT)
DALLAS - The lack of a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment next year will have a ripple effect on some Medicare premiums, experts say.
Many older adults were quick to lament the prospect of no COLA for 2010 when federal budget experts said earlier this year that beneficiaries probably shouldn't expect one because of low inflation.
But few seniors gave much thought to what the lack of an increase in their Social Security benefits will mean for the Medicare Part B premiums they'll pay in 2010 for physician services and other outpatient care.
Why would they? Typically, Social Security COLAs have no bearing on Medicare Part B premiums. The adjustment is more than enough to cover the higher Medicare premium.
But what happens when there is no COLA? Now that July's flat Consumer Price Index seems to confirm the federal budget experts' earlier projection, more seniors have begun to ask that question.
The answer is more heartening for some seniors than others, says the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care research group.
Three in four Medicare beneficiaries are protected by a "hold-harmless" provision in the law that ensures that their Medicare premiums won't go up any more than their Social Security benefits, said Kaiser policy analyst Juliette Cubanski.
So next year, if they get the same amount from Social Security, they'll pay Medicare the same $96.40 per month they do today.
That won't be true, however, for the remaining 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, Cubanski said.
They include:- Higher-income beneficiaries whose modified adjusted gross income exceeds $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples in 2009.-
New enrollees who didn't collect Social Security benefits or weren't covered under Part B a year earlier.-
Low-income individuals whose Medicare Part B premiums are paid by Medicaid.
Cubanski said higher premiums will be charged to those beneficiaries or, in the case of low-income individuals, to state Medicaid programs.
The latest estimate for next year's Part B premium is $104.20 per month, the Kaiser foundation reports, though higher-income beneficiaries can expect to pay a surcharge on top of that.
One final note for the majority of beneficiaries who may think they've dodged the bullet: The hold-harmless provision doesn't apply to Medicare's prescription drug coverage. So some seniors may still get a smaller Social Security payment next year if their drug premiums increase.
"2010 will be anything but a typical year," Cubanski said. "I see a big potential for confusion among beneficiaries."
(c) 2009, The Dallas Morning News.Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Saturday, September 19, 2009