Thursday, October 27, 2011

Medicare Part B deductible will decrease in 2012

Today the Obama Administration announced that, overall, Part B cost-sharing will be less than projected for all beneficiaries in 2012. The Part B deductible will decrease by $22 in 2012, from $162 per year in 2011 to $140 in 2012. Further, monthly Part B premiums will increase slightly for those beneficiaries who have not had an increase in the last two years. Because there will be a cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients in 2012, the Part B premium will increase, but only by $3.50 – from $96.40 in 2011 to $99.90 in 2012.[1] For those individuals who did have Part B premium increases in 2010 and 2011, the premium will actually decrease by $15.10 in 2012, from $115 to $99.90.

The Part B premium reductions are a result of slower Part B growth due in part to health care reform. The Affordable Care Act’s lower payment rates, reduced payments to private Medicare plans, and increased efforts to fight fraud and abuse are some factors contributing to this good news for Medicare, beneficiaries, and taxpayers.  At the same time, health care reform has increased the value of Medicare – reducing beneficiary costs for prescription drugs, adding preventive care coverage, and eliminating cost-sharing for most preventive services.
In summary, between reduced Part B premiums and increased Social Security payments, the average Social Security recipient will have a net cost-of-living increase of $40 per month in 2012.  Good news indeed.

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For a complete breakdown of Medicare cost-sharing for 2012, see:

William C. Wombacher, Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SSA-cost of living increase for 2012

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012.

The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.

Eligible SSI individuals will receive $698 and an eligible couple will receive $1048 in 2012. 

William C. Wombacher, Central Illinois Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and Social Security Disability Specialist

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Medicare-Observation status--Medicare's little trick

Observation status refers to this increasingly common hospital practice of putting patients in beds and providing them with medical and nursing care, diagnostic tests, treatments, services, food, and a wrist band – but calling them outpatients, not inpatients.
No harm, no foul?  Wrong!  It's simple – the difference in terminology makes all the difference in the world: Inpatients qualify for Medicare coverage of their nursing home care following a hospital stay; outpatients don't.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D. CT),  and the Center for Medicare Advocacy held a Congressional briefing on "observation status" to alert Congress about Medicare beneficiaries who are being denied Medicare coverage for care in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) when their prior stay in an acute care hospital is labeled "outpatient observation" rather than inpatient. Read about this at

Central Illinois's Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA)  and Social Security Disability Specialist  

William C. Wombacher