Majority of Medicare Part B premiums to remain the same in 2016
Deductibles going up across the board

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Nov. 4, 2015

WAUKESHA -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 hit financially.

“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 2016.

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

“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,” Lamkins said.

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 and the Medicare Q&A form on

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.


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