Premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, will increase by 15 percent next year to $110.50 per month, topping $100 for the first time. About 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, or 12 million people, will have to pay the higher premiums or have the additional amounts paid on their behalf.
The House in September passed a bill that would freeze Medicare Part B premiums. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged the Senate to approve such legislation. She said, "We are in tremendously difficult economic times, and seniors are being hit particularly hard," adding, "The last thing seniors need right now is a substantial increase in their Medicare premiums, and many seniors will see such an increase if no action is taken."