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Tuesday November 20, 2018

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

What You Will Pay for Medicare in 2019

I know there will be a 2.8% cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits next year but what about Medicare? What will our Medicare Part B monthly premiums and other Medicare costs be in 2019?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced their cost adjustments for 2019. You will be happy to know that, starting in January, the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium for most beneficiaries will be $135.50, a modest increase of $1.50 per month over 2018's standard premium.

There are, however, a small group of Medicare beneficiaries (about 2 million people) who will actually pay less than $135.50 because the 2.8% cost-of-living increase in their Social Security checks will not be large enough to cover the full premium increase. Thanks to the Social Security Act's "hold harmless" provision, Medicare cannot pass along premium increases greater than the dollar increase in Social Security checks.

In addition, a small group of high-income beneficiaries (about 3 million people) will pay higher Part B premiums because their income is above $85,000 for single filers or $170,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Medicare uses your modified adjusted gross income from your tax return filed two years ago to determine your premiums. This means that 2019 Part B premiums are determined by your 2017 income.

So, if your income was between $85,001 and $107,000 (or $170,001 to $214,000 if filing jointly), your monthly premium will increase from $187.50 to $189.60. Monthly premiums for single filers with income of $107,001 to $133,500 or joint filers with income of $214,001 to $267,000 will rise from $267.90 to $270.90. Premiums for single filers earning from $133,501 to $160,000 or $267,001 to $320,000 for joint filers will increase from $348.30 to $352.20.

If your income exceeded these thresholds, your monthly premium for 2018 was $428.60. In 2019, there will be an extra surcharge tier for people at the highest income level.

If your income is between $160,001 and $499,999 ($320,001 to $749,999 for joint filers), you will pay $433.40 per month. Single filers with income of $500,000 or more ($750,000 or more for joint filers) will pay $460.50 per month.

You can contest the surcharge if you fall into any of these high-income categories and you have experienced certain life-changing events that have reduced your income since 2017, such as retirement, divorce or the death of a spouse. For more information about contesting or reducing the high-income surcharge, see "Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher-Income Beneficiaries" at SSA.gov/pubs/EN-05-10536.pdf.

In addition to the Part B premium increases, the annual deductible for Medicare Part B, which covers physician services and other outpatient services, will see a mild bump from $183 to $185 in 2019. The deductible for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital services, will increase from $1,340 in 2018 to $1,364 in 2019.

For more information on all the Medicare costs for 2019 visit Medicare.gov and click on "Find out how much Medicare costs in 2019," or call 800-633-4227.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published October 26, 2018
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