-For those living on a fixed income, the rumor that Medicare
premiums are going to rise 52 percent is terrifying, but Lisa
Lamkins, advocacy director for federal issues with AARP
Wisconsin, said that hike for 2016 was averted due to a
provision in the federal budget.
While the majority of people receiving coverage
through Medicare Part B will not see their premiums increase in
2016, about 30 percent will see them rise by almost $19.
Lamkins said for 70 percent of people with
Medicare Part B, their premiums will remain the same next year.
The other 30 percent will see their premiums increase from
$104.90 per month to $123.70 per month.
Every year, Lamkins said, Social Security
announces in the fall if it will be making adjustments for cost
of living the following year. This year, Social Security said it
would not be making any adjustments for 2016. She said by law if
people don’t receive a cost of living adjustment from Social
Security, then the Medicare premiums won’t increase under a
“hold harmless” provision.
“They did something in the budget deal to protect
people,” Lamkins said.
For the 30 percent whose premiums are increasing
in 2016, Lamkins said they are in certain categories, such as
new enrollees, those already paying higher premiums or those
with dual eligibility, meaning the state will take a bit of a
“The people won’t get a giant increase, they’ll
get a much more manageable increase,” Lamkins said.
Everyone with Medicare coverage will see their
deductible rise, Lamkins said, from $147 in 2015 to $166 in
Another area in which Medicare clients will see
an increase is with Medicare Part D, which covers drugs, Lamkins
said. The cost of drugs is going up across the nation and health
insurance coverage with Medicare is no different, she said.
Most people using Medicare Prescription Drug
Plans have a coverage gap, also called the “donut hole,” which
means there is a temporary limit on what the drug plan will
cover for drugs, according to Medicare.gov.
“I think one of the key things because of those
rising drug costs, it is really important that people look at
their current health care and prescription drug coverage,”
Many people sign up for coverage and then don’t
re-evaluate it; however, Part D plans change every year. Private
insurance companies offer the drug plans so they make
adjustments to the tiers of coverage.
Open enrollment is going on for Medicare until
Dec. 7 so people can still check out their coverage and see if
they want to make any changes, Lamkins said.
When selecting a Medicare plan, Lamkins said, the
AARP advises people to consider the four Cs: cost, coverage,
convenience and customer service.
The paperwork for Medicare remains the same for
2016 as in past years. Lamkins said there are many good
resources online, such as Medicare.gov and the Medicare Q&A form
In addition, every county in Wisconsin has a
benefits specialist working for it, she said. Those specialists
can help walk people through the different options.
“The key thing is for people not to panic about
those big price increases,” Lamkins said. “The budget deal tried
to mitigate those increases.”
But, the cost remains a concern. Lamkins said the
average out-of-pocket costs for people using Medicare in
Wisconsin is nearly $5,000, while the average retirement income
is about $20,000.
>>PART 2: Health
care options available for individuals
>>PART 1: Health
insurance continues to evolve