Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management, ICD-10, Claims Reimbursement, Medicare, Medicaid

Policy & Regulation News

HHS: Medicare Part B Premiums, Deductibles Staying the Same

By Elizabeth Snell

- Healthcare costs are often a top concern for providers and patients. However, one expense is remaining the same for the second year in a row.

Next year’s Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles will remain the same as the last two years, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Americans enrolled in Medicare Part B will see premiums and deductibles remain unchanged in 2015 at $104.90 and $147, respectively.

The Medicare Part B monthly premium for 2015 will remain unchanged for the second consecutive year because of slower Medicare healthcare cost growth since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, explained HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Specifically, as compared to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections for 2015 made in 2009, Medicare Part B premiums will be more than $125 lower over the course of a year.

“The stabilization of Part B premiums is another example of how we are containing health care costs to provide a more sustainable and affordable health delivery system. The Administration has taken important steps to improve the quality of care while keeping the cost of Medicare premiums and deductibles the same,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. “This means even greater financial and health security for our seniors next year as their premiums will remain unchanged.”

The per capita Medicare spending growth has averaged 0.8 percent annually over the past four years. That growth is much lower than the 3.1 percent annual increase in per capita GDP over the same period, HHS explained.

Additionally, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the small number of beneficiaries who pay Medicare Part A monthly premiums will see their monthly bill drop $19 in 2015 to $407. Medicare Part B covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment and other items. Medicare Part A on the other hand covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility and some home health care services.

According to HHS, beneficiaries with higher incomes have paid higher Part B monthly premiums since 2007.  These income-related monthly premium rates affect less than 5 percent of people with Medicare and will remain unchanged from 2014 rates.

This is good news for the Medicare Part B program, especially since just last month, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced that it lost millions of dollars in 2011. An OIG report found that Medicare Part B lost the money because certain fees were not aligned with the rates that Part D and state Medicaid programs paid.

If Part B rates had been the same as the average Part D rates, Part B would have paid dispensing and supplying fees of $22 million — $110.9 million in savings, OIG reported.

 

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