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Editor’s Note: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Sept. 27 that the standard Part B premium will go down in 2023, to $164.90 a month, and on Oct. 13 the Social Security Administration set an 8.7 percent cost-of-living increase for benefits. Read more about Medicare costs and the Social Security COLA for 2023.
Social Security recipients in line for the biggest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in more than 40 years may get an additional hedge against inflation in 2023 — a smaller-than-usual change in the Medicare Part B premiums that are deducted directly from millions of older Americans’ monthly benefits.
Or, perhaps, no change at all.
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“I’m betting on zero,” says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, of the prospective 2023 Part B premium rate increase.
Next year’s premium won’t be known for certain until the fall, when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will announce the 2023 rates. Munnell’s prediction is based on assessments CMS issued in the wake of 2022’s record-high hike in the Part B premium.
That increase, from $148.50 a month to $170.10, was the largest ever in dollar terms. It was largely driven by CMS factoring in the expected cost of covering the new Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm. The rate hike had already taken effect when Biogen, the maker of Aduhelm, slashed the drug’s price and CMS decided to limit coverage, sharply reducing its anticipated costs.
In a May 2022 report, CMS said that without the assumptions about Aduhelm, this year’s premium would have been about $10 a month lower. After exploring the feasibility of a rebate or midyear reduction in Part B rates, the agency said it would instead pass on the savings to Medicare beneficiaries in 2023.
As a result, “I think this year we’re probably going to see a negligible increase, and I wouldn't be surprised if it could be zero,” says Richard Johnson, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center. “That’s not unprecedented.”