House votes to freeze Medicare premiums
Of the 42 million Medicare health insurance recipients, the House has voted to freeze Medicare premiums for the next year. This is based on the current law that Part B premiums cannot rise any faster than what the Social Security cost-of-living increases. A few have already enjoyed this benefit, however, 11 million more people on Medicare desperately needed this as most of these were low income people who already qualified for Medicaid.
The vote was 406 to 18 and HS3621 has been sent to the Senate to vote on. There will be three groups of people that will not be part of the freeze. These include Medicaid recipients, high-income retirees, and new enrollees. Medicaid has generally paid for the Medicare premiums. With Medicaid absorbing these costs next year, the states will pick up the bill.
Those seniors with an adjusted gross income of $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples will not get the freeze. The premiums will increase for this group. New enrollees will also pay the higher cost of premium in 2010. Costs are likely to increase for a number of Medicare recipients in this group to $104.20 per month in 2010, and in 2011 the cost will increase to $120.20 per month.
The law covering Part B does not affect Part D coverage. Thus, even when there is no increase in Social Security cost-of-living, Part D still increases. This may take some chunks out of Social Security checks for some. With the freeze in Medicare premiums, it is helpful to know what all the parts of Medicare are and what they cover.
- Medicare Part A covers hospital expenses and often does not have a premium
- Medicare Part B pays for health care provider visits and other outpatient services.
- Medicare Part C is Medicare Advantage.
- Medicare Part D is prescription drug coverage.
The next step is the Senate. They will vote on the bill. Whether it will pass or not remains to be seen. The freeze will make a significant difference for many seniors across the nation.