What You'll Pay for Medicare Premiums in 2018

What are Medicare premiums in 2018? The standard premium of $134 for Medicare Part B won't change, but some recipients will still end up paying more.

Question: How much will I pay for Medicare Part B in 2018? Are some people still protected by the hold-harmless provision?

Answer: The standard premium for Medicare Part B will continue to be $134 per month in 2018. However, even though the standard premium remains the same, many people will have to pay much more for Part B in 2018 than they did in 2017.

The reason is rooted in the "hold harmless" provision, which prevents enrollees' annual increase in Medicare premiums from exceeding their cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits—if their premiums are automatically deducted from their Social Security checks. This applies to about 70% of Medicare enrollees. The cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security benefits for this year was so low (just 0.3%) that people covered by the hold-harmless provision paid about $109 per month, on average, for Medicare premiums in 2017.

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But Social Security benefits will be increasing by 2% in 2018, which will cover more of the increase for people protected by the hold-harmless provision. Some 42% of Part B enrollees who are subject to the hold-harmless provision for 2018 will pay the full monthly premium of $134 because the increase in their Social Security benefit will cover the additional Part B premiums. Another 28% of Part B enrollees who are covered by the hold-harmless provision will pay less than $134 because the 2% increase in their Social Security benefits will not be large enough to cover the full Part B premium increase.

Most people who sign up for Medicare in 2018 or who do not have their premiums deducted from their Social Security benefits are not protected by the hold-harmless provision and will pay the full $134 per month.

And some people will pay even more. If your adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest income is more than $85,000 if you're single or $170,000 if you're married and file taxes jointly, then you'll have to pay a high-income surcharge for Medicare Part B and Part D – whether or not you are protected by the hold-harmless provision. Your monthly Part B premiums will range from $187.50 per person to $428.60 per person, depending on your income.

What You'll Pay for Medicare in 2018

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Income (adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt interest income):
Single tax returnMarried filing jointlyMonthly Part B premium (per person)
$85,000 or less$170,000 or less$134 (may be less if covered by the hold-harmless provision)
$85,001 to $107,000$170,001 to $214,000$187.50
$107,001 to $133,500$214,001 to $267,000$267.90
$133,501 to $160,000$267,001 to $320,000$348.30
More than $160,000More than $320,000$428.60

You may be able to contest the extra charge if your income has gone down since your last tax return on file. For more information, see FAQs about Medicare.

Also, the Medicare Part A inpatient hospital deductible in 2018 will increase for everyone by $24, to $1,340. The Medicare Part B deductible, which covers physician and outpatient services, will remain at $183 for 2018.

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.