The 14.5% increase in Part B premiums brings monthly payments for those in the lowest income bracket from $148.50 a month this year to $170.10 in 2022. Medicare Part B includes physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services , medical devices, and certain other medical and health services not covered by Medicare Part A, including medications given in physician’s offices.
ALSO SEE | Latinx people in the Chicago area are least likely to have health insurance, Equity Report finds
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services played off the spike, pointing out that most beneficiaries also receive Social Security benefits and will see a 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment in their monthly payments by 2022, the agency said in a statement. That’s the biggest hurdle in 30 years.
“This significant COLA increase will more than cover the increase in the monthly premium for Medicare Part B,” CMS said. “Most people on Medicare will see a significant net increase in Social Security benefits. For example, a retired worker who is currently receiving $1,565 per month from Social Security can expect a net increase of $70.40 more per month after the Medicare Part B benefits premium has been deducted.”
However, the increase is much more than the Medicare trustees estimated in their annual report, released in late August. They predicted that the monthly premium would be $158.50 for 2022.
The actual spike — the largest since 2016 — could hurt some seniors financially.
RELATED | BGA Study Examines Illinois Medicaid Health Program
It “uses the full annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) adjustment for Social Security recipients with the very lowest benefits, of about $365 per month,” said Mary Johnson, a Social Security and health care policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League, an advocate group. “Social Security recipients with higher benefits should be able to cover the $21.60 per month increase, but they may not have as much left over as they were counting on.”
Medicare premiums have typically risen much faster than Social Security’s annual adjustments, the league said. And much of the increase in Social Security benefits in 2022 will be swallowed up by inflation, which is also rising rapidly.
CMS said part of the increase for 2022 was due to uncertainty about how much the agency will ultimately pay to treat beneficiaries treated with Aduhelm, an Alzheimer’s drug that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June. approved because of the objections of its advisers. Some experts estimate it will cost $56,000 a year. Medicare now decides whether to pay it on a case-by-case basis.
Because Aduhelm is administered in doctors’ offices, it must be covered under Medicare Part B, not under Part D plans, which pay for medications purchased from pharmacies. Traditional Medicare enrollees are required to pay 20% of the cost of most Part B medications, which would translate to about $11,500 in out-of-pocket costs for those prescribed Aduhelm.
ALSO SEE | IL Gov. JB Pritzker Signs COVID Amendment to Illinois Healthcare Conscience Act
“The increase in the Part B premium for 2022 is continuing evidence that rising drug costs threaten the affordability and sustainability of the Medicare program,” CMS administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement. “The Biden-Harris administration is working to make drug prices more affordable and equitable for all Americans, and to promote drug pricing reforms through competition, innovation and transparency.”
Also, Congress last year restricted the 2021 premium hike, even as medical care spending rose amid the coronavirus pandemic. Monthly fees increased by less than $4.
Along with the premium spike, the annual deductible for Medicare Part B beneficiaries rises to $233 in 2022, up from $203 in 2021.
Medicare is the federal health insurance plan that covers more than 62 million people, mostly 65 and older.
Part B premiums are based on income. Individuals who earn $500,000 or more per year and joint applicants who earn $750,000 or more per year will pay $578.30 per month for coverage in 2022.
(The-CNN-Wire & 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)