Q: I’ve heard that Medicare Part B deductibles are increasing in 2016. Will all Medicare enrollees be affected?
A: Yes, the deductible will increase for all Part B enrollees. But thanks to the budget that Congress passed in early November (and the loan for Medicare that was included in it), the increase in the deductible will be much less than it would otherwise have been.
The deductible for Part B will be $166 for all enrollees in 2016. Although this is an increase over the $147 deductible that Part B enrollees have paid since 2013, it’s far less than the $223 it was expected to be prior to the passage of the budget bill.
Some Medicare enrollees aren’t directly responsible for the Part B deductible. Medigap plans C and F cover the deductible, and enrollees who have Medicaid or retiree health benefits from an employer will also be insulated from the Part B deductible increase. Some Medicare Advantage plans have no deductibles and low copays. But it’s reasonable to assume that if those supplemental plans are footing the bill for the increased Part B deductible, they will pass along the expense in the form of higher premiums.
According to Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, there are about 17 million people who only have Medicare Parts A and B. They don’t have Medigap coverage, retiree health benefits from a former employer, Medicaid, or a Medicare Advantage plan. For these enrollees, the deductible increase for Part B will be felt directly.
It could end up being a significant burden, especially for members of this group who are among the 7 million Part B enrollees who will also pay higher premiums in 2016.