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Medicare Changes To Take Effect with the New Year

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2011-01-01 17:18

With the beginning of each new year comes new changes to health insurance plans, including Medicare. Most of the changes this year comes from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law on March 23, 2010. It is important for seniors to understand these changes so they continue to receive the best possible health care from their providers.

Medicare Premiums
For most seniors, there will be minimal changes to Medicare premiums. Because there is no cost of living increase (COLA) issued by the Social Security Administration, Medicare Part B premiums are prohibited from increasing also. The 2011 monthly premium will remain $96.40 for most existing beneficiaries or $110.50 if you are a new enrollee to the plan in 2010. For those enrolling in 2011, the premium will cost $115.40 per month.

Those who have higher incomes, however, will pay higher premiums. The premiums, based on the 2009 IRS tax return, are as follows:

• Individuals with incomes of $85,000 to $107,000, or married couples filing joint tax returns with incomes of $170,000 to $214,000, will pay $161.50 per month.
• Individuals earning $107,000 to $160,000, couples $214,000 to $320,000, will pay $230.70 monthly.
• Individuals with incomes of $160,000 to $214,000, couples $320,000 to $428,000, will pay $299.90 each month.
• Individuals over $214,000, or couples above $428,000, will pay $369.10 per month.

Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes will also have a surcharge on Part D premiums. Those with individual incomes of $85,000 or more (or over $170,000 for joint filers) will pay an additional $12 to $69.50 per month, depending on their income, for the prescription drug plan.

Medicare Deductibles and Co-Pays
All Medicare Part B beneficiaries will see a rise in their deductible, which will increase from $155 in 2010 to $162 in 2011.
The Medicare Part A hospital insurance deductible will also increase. For hospital stays up to 60 days, the cost will increase from $1100 to $1132. For stays lasting longer, the per day rate will be $283 for hospital stays lasting between 61 to 90 days and $566 per day for 91 to 150 days.

The skilled nursing facility co-payment for days 21 to 100 will increase from $137.50 per day to $141.50 per day.

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