The 2017 premiums reflect how a variety of circumstances now determines what people pay for Part B, which covers doctors' visits, outpatient care and medical equipment.v
This unusual situation arises because of the lack of any Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2016 and only a tiny one in 2017. Under the law, people with Medicare who draw Social Security benefits cannot pay more in Part B premium increases than they receive from the COLA. So in 2016, these people — about 70 percent of beneficiaries — were "held harmless" from any premium increase and paid the same as they had in 2015. In 2017, because the COLA will raise benefits by a measly 0.3 percent, they will pay an average of $4.10 more for Part B, depending on the dollar increase in their Social Security checks.
Other beneficiaries will pay far more — because their premiums must cover most of the predicted increase in Part B costs as a whole for 2017.
The following are the premiums you can expect to pay in 2017, according to your circumstances:
- If you paid $104.90 a month for Part B in 2016, you'll pay a little more (around $109) in 2017.
- If you paid $121.80 a month in 2016, and your Part B premiums were deducted from your Social Security check in December, you'll pay $4 or $5 more in 2017, depending on the size of your check.
- If you're enrolled in Part B but are not receiving Social Security payments, or the premiums are not deducted from them, you'll pay $134 a month in 2017.
- If you enroll in Part B for the first time in 2017 — regardless of whether you're receiving Social Security payments — you will pay $134 a month.
- If your Part B premiums are paid by your state because of low income, you will continue to pay no premiums in 2017, as long as you remain eligible for this assistance.
- If your taxable income is over a certain level ($85,000 for a single person or $170,000 for a married couple filing a joint tax return) in 2017 you'll pay higher Part B premiums of between $187.50 and $428.60 a month, according to income level.
- If you pay higher-income premiums for Part B, you also pay more for Part D prescription drug coverage. Surcharges in 2017 range from $13.30 to $76.20 a month, according to income level, in addition to the premiums that your Part D drug plan charges.
- If you're among the relatively few people who pay premiums for Part A, which covers hospital stays, because you did not pay enough payroll taxes while working to qualify for premium-free coverage, you will pay either $227 or $413 a month for Part A in 2017, depending on how many Social Security work credits you've obtained.
Among other Medicare costs, the annual Part B deductible will rise by $17 to $183 in 2017. The Part A hospital deductible — paid for a stay in the hospital before coverage kicks in — will increase by $28 to $1,316 next year. This is the standard hospital deductible for people enrolled in the traditional Medicare program; those in Medicare Advantage health care plans usually have different hospital charges.