CMS has announced that Part B premiums will rise in 2017. 70% of Medicare beneficiaries will have their premiums increase from ~$105/month to $110/month. However, the remaining 30% will face a 10% increase in their base premiums. The 6% of beneficiaries who pay a high income surcharge will pay an additional 10% increase in that surcharge, on top of their Part B premiums.
All Social Security recipients will receive a 0.3% cost of living increase for 2017. A meager increase to say the least, but better than getting nothing at all, which was the case in 2016.
70% of recipients fall under a hold harmless provision implemented back in 1987 which is designed to keep their net checks from diminishing. So for those retirees who have their Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks, the premium cannot go up in any given year by more than the extra dollars that they're receiving as a cost of living adjustment.
The remaining 30%, who are well off and who don't have their premiums withheld from their SS checks, are the unlucky recipients of the rising costs that are deflected from those that fall under the hold harmless provision.
The numbers sound abysmal, but in light of what could have happened, they're not nearly as exorbitant as they could have been. Last year Congress voted to keep the increase to 16% for the 30% who pay the surcharge (rather than the proposed 52%). Next year's increase was proposed to be 22% which Congress has knocked back to 10%.
The costs are staggering, and the issue isn't going to resolve itself anytime soon as seniors continue to live longer, and the cost of care continues to climb.
By Carolyn Portanova
The Medicare Advantage buzz has now died down and AEP has ended, but you can continue to write Medicare Supplement policies. In fact you can do so year round. The benefits of placing your clients in a Med Supp plan are numerous, and the most popular Plan F is quickly being replaced with the Plan G.
Overall, Medicare Supplement plans limit out-of-pocket expenses incurred by policy holders. The Plan F has no deductible, the Plan G currently has a $147 Part B deductible for 2015, and this will jump slightly to $166 in 2016. The yearly savings your clients will benefit from by enrolling in a Plan G will offset the Part B deductible in most cases.
Medicare Supplement plans offer the freedom to select any doctor anywhere, and plans can NEVER be cancelled or changed by anyone other than the policy holder. Rates may change annually, but our Medicare & Senior Solutions Sales Managers are here to help you navigate those rate changes, and provide you with the best solution for your clients.
Deciding which carrier and which plan is the right choice for your client, is made easier with the help of our Resource for Rates online quote tool. If you're not set up, we can get you enrolled in just minutes.
Writing paper applications is still possible; however, submitting e-Apps with our carriers is easier than ever. If you need assistance with the electronic process, we're here to help. Each carrier has their own version online via their producer portal. The Underwriting process is much quicker and applications submitted are typically approved within a couple of days. Logging into the producer portal to check the status of an e-App is especially helpful.
Enhanced renewal commissions is a benefit to you, the advisor, when writing Medicare Supplement policies. Your commissions continue to roll in each year and are carrier-specific. Again, we can help you understand your commission schedule and give you insight as to what your earnings will be.
By Carolyn Portanova
Carolyn Portanova is the Director of Marketing at The Brokerage Resource and has been with the firm since 2012.