Medicare Premium Increases Announced and Medicaid Glitch Fix Passes House

Last week the federal government announced that 2012 Medicare premiums will increase for most participants by $3.50 per month from $96.40, making 2012 premiums $99.90 a month. The percent increase is roughly equivalent to the 3.6% COLA increase for Social Security announced recently, but much less than the $39 per month amount of the Social Security COLA. The Social Security COLA, the first since 2009, actually made the Medicare premium increase possible due to a law preventing most Medicare premiums from rising when Social Security payouts remain constant. The premium up-tick was significantly less than the $10 increase predicted by Medicare trustees earlier this year, which would have amounted to a 10.4% escalation.

In other related health care news, the Affordable Care Act received a small make-over yesterday when the House passed a bill to fix a widely criticized glitch in Medicaid payments. The glitch effectively would have allowed couples earning up to $64,000 a year into the payout system. Earlier in the week, the White House voiced its support for the bill, which ultimately passed 262-157 in the House, although it still has to clear the Senate. The fix will result in about $13 billion in savings, which is a step in the right direction towards reducing unnecessary contributors to the deficit. See some ideas for health care savings here.