Medicare Releases Official 2016 Part B Premiums

After months of speculation, Medicare’s standard Part B premiums for 2016 have been officially announced. About 70 percent of beneficiaries will continue to pay the same amount that has been charged for the past three years: $104.90 a month. Others will pay $121.80 a month, or more for higher-income beneficiaries who already pay higher premiums. As previously reported, the double standard arises from a quirk in the law that occurs only when there is no Social Security cost of living …

Bitten by a Crocodile? There’s a Code for That

A seismic change in Medicare and the rest of the U.S. health care industry began Oct. 1, when a new system of diagnostic codes — which all health providers must use to get paid — finally went into effect after a decade of controversy. The change is making the industry hold its breath, nervous of how it will play out. Will honest mistakes in coding cause claims to be delayed or, worse, go unpaid? Will some physicians, overwhelmed by the …

Medicare Healthy … for Now

Turning 50 this month, Medicare has received a report card predicting reasonable long-term health for the program, but warning of future challenges posed by a surge of millions of baby boomers into the system in coming years. It also hinted at a possible return next year to a temporary shift in Medicare premiums, with some beneficiaries paying an additional amount for doctors’ services. Medicare’s hospital trust fund, which collects workers’ contributions from payroll taxes to fund Part A coverage, will …

Take Advantage of Medicare’s Free Preventive Services

Being able to treat a medical problem is good, but dodging the problem altogether is even better. That seems obvious, yet Medicare has only recently expanded coverage for services that help prevent or stave off some of the diseases that make people very ill and — not coincidentally — cost Medicare mountains of money. Many of these preventive tests, screenings and counseling sessions are now available for free, with no copays or deductibles, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. More …

Permanent Fix for Medicare Payments to Doctors Moves to Obama

This post was updated April 21, 2015. President Barack Obama signed into law on April 21 a permanent solution to a problem that has plagued the Medicare system for years. Doctors never knew whether the payments they received for treating Medicare beneficiaries would suddenly drop, making it difficult for them to make long-term business plans and causing some to stop taking Medicare patients altogether. Obama once compared the flawed payment formula to a “guillotine” hanging permanently over doctors’ heads. Approving …

Medicare in Good Health – for Now

Medicare is in much better health and has a somewhat longer life expectancy than previously expected, according to the 2014 Medicare Trustee’s report released today. Spending on Medicare’s Part B program, which covers mainly doctors’ services and outpatient care, has significantly slowed, the report says. That’s good news for the 59 million people on Medicare, because it means that the standard Part B premiums, which are always pegged to the previous year’s costs, are expected to stay at the same …