Advertisement
Medicare

Why Some People Pay Less for Medicare Than Others

What you need to know about Medicare premiums -- and how to reduce yours under certain circumstances.

Question: I can’t get my head around the Medicare Part B premium. I’ve read that the basic premium is supposed to be $134 for 2017, but that most seniors will pay $109 a month and some will pay more than $400. Can you clear things up?

Answer: We’ll try. The 2017 premium is officially $134, but about 70% of beneficiaries (those receiving Social Security benefits in December and not subject to high-income surcharges) will pay much less, averaging about $109. The law forbids an increase in Part B premiums to reduce January 2017 benefits below the amount received in December 2016. This means that different people will pay different premiums: last year’s $104.90 plus the amount that the 2017 0.3% cost-of-living adjustment adds to their Social Security benefit. The rising premium offsets the COLA, but it can’t reduce the benefit below December’s level.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Those who start receiving benefits in 2017 will pay $134 a month, because they’re not protected by the “benefits can’t go down” rule, unless that is, their income is high enough to trigger a surcharge. Those surcharges can drive 2017 premiums as high as $428.60 a month. Beneficiaries will get a notice from Social Security pinpointing what they’ll pay.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

[QUESTION2]I’ll retire in April, and I’m sure my income for 2017 will fall below the level that triggers the high-income surcharge for Medicare. But if the government sets the premium based on my 2015 tax return, I’ll have to pay almost $350 a month. Am I stuck with the surcharge until Medicare gets my 2017 tax return showing lower income?[QUESTION2END]

Answer: No. Because retirement is considered a “life changing” event, you can appeal to have your estimated 2017 income used to set the premium. The basic premium for Medicare Part B for someone who signs up this year is $134 a month. The surcharges, which start when adjusted gross income plus tax-free interest exceeds $85,000 for single filers and $170,000 for joint filers, can drive that monthly cost as high as $428.60.

You’ll need to file Form SSA-44 with Social Security to avoid a surcharge. We’ve heard that the most efficient way to handle this is to call Social Security (800-772-1213) to set up a face-to-face meeting at a local office. If you wind up paying the surcharge for a month or two before your appeal is approved, Social Security will reimburse you for the overpayment.

Advertisement

Most Popular

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)
tax deadline

12 Tax Deadlines for July 15 (It's Not Just the Due Date for Your Tax Return)

Between due dates for IRA or HSA contributions, paying estimated taxes and other deadlines, there's more to do by July 15 than just filing your federa…
July 10, 2020
65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On
stocks

65 Best Dividend Stocks You Can Count On

These 65 Dividend Aristocrats are an elite group of dividend stocks that have reliably increased their annual payouts every year for at least a quarte…
July 8, 2020
Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider
credit & debt

Know Why Your Credit Score Changes: 9 Money Moves to Consider

Your credit score is a key indicator of your financial well-being and of the risk you pose to lenders. How good is yours?
July 10, 2020

Recommended

HSAs Get Even Better
Financial Planning

HSAs Get Even Better

Workers have more options with flexible spending accounts, too.
July 2, 2020
Pass Along Life Lessons With an Ethical Will
retirement

Pass Along Life Lessons With an Ethical Will

Create a legacy letter to communicate values, experiences and life lessons to your family.
June 9, 2020
Finding Affordable Health Care Now
insurance

Finding Affordable Health Care Now

The pandemic has caused millions of people to lose their jobs — and their health coverage. Here’s a guide to finding affordable insurance.
June 4, 2020
IRS Allows Mid-Year Changes to Health Plans, Expands FSAs and More
taxes

IRS Allows Mid-Year Changes to Health Plans, Expands FSAs and More

You probably never heard of COVID-19 when you picked this year's health insurance policy at work.
May 27, 2020