Q: Did the Medicare Part B deductible increase again for 2018?
A: No. After increasing in 2016 and again in 2017, the Part B deductible remained unchanged for 2018
[Note that the monthly premium for Part B did increase in 2018 for most enrollees, but the deductible stayed the same.]
The deductible for Part B was steady at $147 from 2031 to 2015 (this was lower than it had been in 2010-2011; see below for a list of Part B deductible amounts by year). It then increased to $166 in 2016—far less than the $223 it would have been without the budget that Congress passed in November 2015, which included a loan for Medicare.
Does everyone have to pay the Part B deductible?
Some Medicare enrollees aren’t directly responsible for the Part B deductible:
- Medigap plans C and F cover the deductible (which is why those plans will no longer be available to newly-eligible enrollees after the end of 2019, under the terms of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act).
- Enrollees who have Medicaid or retiree health benefits from an employer generally don’t have to pay the Part B deductible, as the other coverage picks up the tab
- Some Medicare Advantage plans have no deductibles and low copays (Medicare Advantage enrollees pay the Part B premium plus the Medicare Advantage premium, and then the Medicare Advantage insurer wraps the Part A, B, and D benefits into one plan for the enrollee, with cost-sharing that can differ greatly from the standard Original Medicare cost-sharing).
But according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, about 14 percent of Medicare beneficiaries only have Medicare Parts A and B (that was based on 2010 data, but for perspective, there are a total of about 59 million Medicare beneficiaries in 2018). They don’t have Medigap coverage, retiree health benefits from a former employer, Medicaid, or a Medicare Advantage plan. These enrollees have to pay the full Part B deductible if and when they need services that are covered under Medicare Part B. But for 2018, that deductible is the same as it was in 2017.
Part B deductible by year
These amounts are indexed annually, after being set by the Medicare Modernization Act in 2005:
- 2005: $110
- 2006: $124
- 2007: $131
- 2008: $135
- 2009: $135
- 2010: $155
- 2011: $162
- 2012: $140 (a decrease)
- 2013: $147
- 2014: $147
- 2015: $147
- 2016: $166
- 2017: $183
- 2018: $183
Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.