Ask Cheasty: Will my Medicare premiums go up with health reform?

Dear Cheasty, I got an email the other day that said my Medicare premium would go up to $247 a month with Obamacare. I live on my Social Security and I can’t afford my Medicare if this is true. Is it true?


A Worried Senior

Dear Worried Senior,

No, it is not true! It isn’t even partly true, or sort of true, or true-if-you-look-at-it-sideways.

There have been a number of emails that have circulated with scary lies about the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. the ACA or “Obamacare”). These emails are scare tactics, pure and simple, and it is so smart of you to try and fact check the one you got recently about Medicare premiums.

Let me explain why this is false, and what the real truth is.

The premium that email is talking about is your optional Medicare Part B premium, which is currently $99.90 a month (if you’ve opted in to this part of the program). This premium is set BY SOCIAL SECURITY LAW (not the Affordable Care Act) and that law has not changed. Furthermore, the ACA (Obamacare) never will affect the Medicare premium calculation. It can’t be changed by the President’s executive order. It can’t be changed by anything other than Congress, and they haven’t done anything!

Here’s something else to put your mind at ease. By law, (the Social Security law), you are protected from rising Medicare rates that might cut into your Social Security benefits. Here’s how it works. The only way they can raise Medicare rates is if your Social Security cost-of-living adjustment also goes up. And even then, they can’t raise your Medicare premiums more than your cost of living adjustment. That way, your net benefits stay the same! This provision in the law is called the “hold harmless” provision, and it means exactly what it says. They can’t harm your pocketbook, and they can’t harm you.

I hope this puts your mind at ease, Worried. Thanks for checking, and please write again if you get any more scary emails about health reform!

To a well and healthy Texas,

Cheasty Anderson