close up of medicare card

Seniors will pony up about 15% more next year for Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles that cover home health services and durable equipment.

“This is a massive increase in the Part B premium, especially in comparison to the typical premium increases in Medicare year over year,” Tyler Overstreet Cromer, principal at the  consulting firm ATI Advisory, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse. “For most people, the increase in their Social Security checks should cover the increasing premium for 2022, but rising healthcare costs — including some costly drugs — have an impact on every taxpayer, and especially our older adults on Medicare.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced late last week the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B will be $170.10 in 2022, a $21.60 more than the $148.50 seniors paid in 2021. Annual deductibles for beneficiaries will increase $30 in 2022 to $233 from $203.

CMS attributed the increase in both premiums and deductibles to rising prices and utilization across the healthcare system, as well as the anticipated increase in the intensity of care provided to seniors next year. It also pointed to congressional action that limited the increase in the Medicare Part B premium in 2021 and additional contingency reserves for the Alzheimer’s drug Adulhelm. CMS began analysis of the drug last summer to determine if and how Medicare will cover Adulhelm and similar therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Open enrollment for 2022 began one month ago and ends on December 7. The enrollment period allows seniors time to compare coverage options between Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The Medicare Part B premium is based on the beneficiary’s income. 

Cromer speculated that the rising costs of Medicare Part B might prompt some seniors to opt into MA programs, which simplify and limit the amount of out-of-pocket costs seniors must bear. 

“There are some MA plans that have what’s called a Medicare Part B Premium Giveback Benefit, which pays for some of the Part B premium,” Cromer explained. “We could certainly see Medicare beneficiaries shopping for this benefit this year.

More than 40% of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries are currently enrolled in MA plans, but a recent study found them to be costly to the government. A researcher at the University of California found Medicare overpaid private MA plans $106 billion between 2010 and 2019.