In November, you wrote that there was not an increase in the 2018 Part B premium. I have not seen an increase in the last 2 years, and $109 Part B premium has been deducted from my Social Security check.
Recently I received from Social Security what my 2018 Social Security check will be and to my surprise, my Part B premium increased to $134, only giving me a $2 increase. Can you explain what has happened? I was counting on the 2% increase, which is about a $27 increase a month, not $2. I live on a fixed income and this is not what I was expecting.
Sam from Oklahoma City, OK
About 70% of those on Medicare who have been receiving their Social Security check are also discovering that they are not receiving the COLA increase that they were expecting.
Why, you might be thinking? It is because this specific group in the 1st tier whose income is under $85,000 as an individual or $170,000 as a couple and receiving their Social Security check fall under Social Security’s “hold harmless” rule, where if there is little or no increase in your Social Security check, then your Medicare Part B premium cannot rise, which is what has happened the last 2 years.
This year there is a 2% raise in COLA for your Social Security check in 2018 and that has brought your Social Security premium to what the average person on Medicare is paying, which is $134 per month.
Beginning January 1, 2018, those on the 1st tier is paying more, and this group is disappointed because their cost of living is increasing, but their Social Security check is not. However, the Part B premium has increased $25/month to $134/month.
In 2018, income levels are changing in the 3rd and 4th tiers, and those with incomes of $133,501 (not $160,001 as in 2017) or greater as an individual or $267,001 (not $320,001) or greater as a couple will now have an increase in their Part B premium. They will pay $348.30 or more depending on their income for Medicare Part B premiums and an additional $55.20 or greater for Medicare Part D IRMAA premiums.
To summarize, changes regarding increases in Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D IRMAA premiums depend on whether one is protected under Social Security’s “hold harmless” rule or not. Most do not qualify this year because the 2% COLA took away that protection for an increase to their Social Security benefit check. Also, those whose income is over $133,501 as an individual or $267,001 as a couple will be in a high-income tier and must pay more for their Part B and Part D IRMAA premiums.
To discover which income tier and Medicare plan or option as an individual or couple you are in, contact new Toni Says Medicare Call Center at 1/844-250-8664.
These income tier changes were a result of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) which also changed how a hospital stay is classified under “Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON)”, which went into effect March 2017. Always find out if you or your loved one is classified as an outpatient or inpatient. This is discussed in chapter 2 of the new Toni Says, “Medicare Survival Guide Advanced” edition is available at www.tonisays.com.