Do you become eligible for Medicare in the coming months? Hospital (Part A) coverage does not have a monthly premium but Medical (Part B) coverage does. How much will your Part B premium be? Keep reading to avoid a surprise.
For many years, and continuing today, the government pays a substantial portion, about 75 percent, of the Part B premium for the vast majority of beneficiaries and the beneficiary pays the remaining 25 percent. Using the standard 2010 Part B monthly premium of $110.50 for people newly becoming eligible, this means that for every person paying the $110.50 the government pays about three times that amount.
The Medicare Modernization Act changed how Part B premiums are calculated for some higher income beneficiaries. Since 2007, higher income beneficiaries have been paying a larger percentage of their Part B premium based on income as reported to the Internal Revenue Service. In 2010, higher income beneficiaries will pay a monthly premium equal to 35, 50, 65 or 80 percent of the total cost, depending on what they reported to the IRS. This affects less than 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries. Most people newly enrolled in Medicare will pay the standard $110.50 Part B monthly premium without an income-related adjustment.
To determine if you will pay a higher Part B premium, the IRS sends Social Security information from your most recent tax return. A sliding scale based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is used to adjust the Part B premium. Your MAGI is a combination of your adjusted gross (taxable) income and tax exempt interest income. For example, if in 2010 you file your taxes as "married, filing jointly" and your MAGI is more than $170,000, you will pay a higher Part B premium. For all other taxpayer filing statuses, if your MAGI is more than $85,000 in 2010, you will pay a higher Part B premium.
If you will be paying a higher Part B premium, a letter is sent explaining the determination and what your new premium will be. Appeals are possible if you disagree with the decision. Again, higher premiums affect less than 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.
Many more Medicare Medical (Part B) premium details are available on the Social SecurityWeb site (www.socialsecurity.gov). Follow either the Medicare button or "Forms and Publications" link from the homepage. From the publication index, located directly at (www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/index.html), select Medicare to see several publications about Part B premiums.
Some including Medicare Part B Premiums: Important Information For People Newly Eligible For Medicare (Publication No. 05-10162,) contain a chart showing Part B premium rates based on different modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) amounts. Go to (www.medicare.gov) to learn about the coverage Medicare provides.
You can contact the Social Security Administration in several ways. Visit the SSA Web site at (www.socialsecurity.gov) for information, retirement planning tools and the online retirement application. There you can also request services including veri- fication of your existing benefit amount or replacing a lost Medicare card at "What you can do online."
Call the SSA national toll-free number 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. for information about your benefits or to make an appointment. To reach the Minot office directly, call 852-0604 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Howard A. Kossover is a public affairs specialist for the Social Security Administration. He works with organizations, government agencies and businesses. Questions of general interest can be sent to him at email@example.com.