Q: How much does the Medicare Part B coverage cost?
A: As announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last October, the standard 2014 Medicare Part B (Medical) premium remained unchanged from the 2013 amount of $104.90 per month.
Part B covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.
Coverage details are at the Medicare website, www.medicare.gov. Not everyone pays the standard Medicare Part B (Medical) premium amount.
Based on the amount of Federal tax return modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), some people pay a higher Part B premium.
This affects less than five percent of people with Medicare, so most people do not pay a higher premium.
By law, the standard Part B premium represents about 25 percent of the coverage cost.
In effect, most people enrolled in Medicare Part B actually receive a subsidy of about 75 percent of actual coverage costs.
People with higher income pay a larger proportion of their coverage cost.
The most recent Federal tax return available is used to determine the 2014 income adjusted Part B premium amount.
This is generally, but not always, from a tax return filed in 2013 for tax year 2012.
Changes are possible in a few situations if income has gone down due to specific events including a change in marital status or work levels.
The standard Medicare Part B (Medical) premium of $104.90 applies if an individual Federal tax return shows modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of $85,000 or less and for a married couple a MAGI of $170,000 or less.
Based on a sliding scale, there are several different premium amounts.
More information and a chart showing 2014 premium levels is in the booklet “Medicare Premiums: Rules for Higher Income Beneficiaries” online at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10536.pdf.
General Medicare information, including an online application, is in the Medicare portion of the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov.
Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at email@example.com. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.