The New Medicare Handbook for 2011 is just now being received by those persons who are enrolled in the program. There is one glaring omission. If you are enrolled and you want to know what you will pay for your Medicare Part B premium in 2011, you won’t find it printed in the handbook as has been done in prior years for those earning less than $85,000 a year.
It’s only a couple of days before mid-term elections. Is the government withholding information on the Part B premium because the premium will be going up, and they don’t want to make that known at this critical time when seniors are less than happy with the actions of the government anyway?
Or is the government just fumbling the ball, which doesn’t bode well for what lies ahead since they are now in charge of our health care system?
Because of zero transparency on the part of the government, I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, took up my magnifying glass, and began doing some sleuthing to try to learn just what I will pay for my Medicare Part B monthly premium beginning in January, 2011.
This is what is printed on page 135 of the new handbook:
Part B (Medical Insurance) Monthly Premium
At the time of printing, these amounts weren’t available. However, most people will continue to pay the same Part B premium they paid last year. If you have questions about your Part B premium, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
My first question when reading this was, “If the premium is the same as for last year why not just settle on that amount and print it in the handbook?” Why use the terminology “most people?”
Next I pondered why seniors have to call to find out their premium cost. Would an insurance company get by with sending out a notice saying: “At the time of this printing, the amount of your premium isn’t available. Call us to find out how much your new bill will be.”
But I wanted to find out, so I called Social Security at the above quoted number.
I got a recorded message saying:
“You have reached automated services. If you prefer to talk to an agent, call between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tell me briefly the reason for your call.”
My response, slowly and well-enunciated: “To learn Medicare Part B premium cost for 2011.”
The automated message: “I’ll be happy to help you with Medicare issues…blah, blah, blah, how to enroll in Medicare; blah, blah, blah, how to enroll for prescription coverage; blah, blah, blah, how to replace a lost card. Please hang up, or return to the main menu.”
I tried the main menu again, and spoke VERY slowly and carefully: “Medicare Part B premium for 2011.”
The response: “I’ll be happy to help you with Medicare issues…”
I hung up.
Then I tried the internet to learn the premium cost for Medicare Part B premium for 2011.
When I downloaded the online Handbook, I found that page 135 regarding the premium cost for next year wasn’t part of the online booklet at all. No page 135 – na da.
Next I tried the regular Medicare website at www.medicare.gov.
I discovered this information:
How Much Does Part B Cost?
You pay the Part B premium each month. Most people will pay the standard premium amount (link to current amount?. However, if your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from 2 years ago is above a certain amount, you may pay more.
Your modified adjusted gross income is your taxable income plus your tax exempt interest income. Social Security will notify you if you have to pay more than the standard premium. If you have to pay a higher amount for your Part B premium and you disagree (even if you get Railroad Retirement Board benefits), call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778.
If you don’t sign up for Part B when you are first eligible, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
That was neither helpful nor encouraging.
Hoping to find the answer on the social security website, I learned this:
Medicare Part B Premium amount.
The slight difference in the amounts of the Part B premiums is due to the way the amounts are calculated. Regardless of whether your Medicare Part B premium is $96.40 or $96.50, your monthly Social…
Date of Last Update: 07/28/2010
Medicare Part B monthly premium for 2010.
The standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $110.50 in 2010. The Medicare Part B premium amounts for 2010 are determined by the Department of Health and Human…
Fuzzy data, at best!
They have been deducting $96.50 for my Medicare premium throughout 2010, although some people apparently have been paying $110.50.
But this doesn’t tell me what the premium rate(s) will be for 2011.
If the premium is staying the same, why isn’t it printed in the handbook? When hard data is not made available, suspicions of wrong doing are easily aroused.
My Blue Cross premium has gone up 12.5% for the coming year. At least they were upfront about it and let me know straight up what to expect.
I get it that Obamacare is going to cost all of us a lot of money. I just want the government to be open and transparent about the bill that we seniors will get beginning in two months. Why is it the responsibility of the senior citizens to track down their premium cost?
I’ll camp on the phone next week and try to learn more information; I will pass on whatever I learn to my readers.
The bottom line:
Seniors eat, therefore they budget.
The government doesn’t budget, therefore they eat – all the tax money that they can consume, asking for second, third and forth helpings. Then they hand the once-again empty plate to China, and get it filled there after which the taxpayers pay through their collective noses for interest on our debt to China.
Fellow seniors, if you are as fed up with the lack of transparency and the rampant spending as I am, then make your voices heard on November 2nd. I’ll be at the polls bright and early, and I hope to see you there!
Personal opinion of the writer