The 2016 Medicare Trustees Report was released last week and it contains a very early outlook of what the Part B deductible might look like for 2017.

Table V.E2 of the Medicare Trustees report projects the Part B deductible going from $166 in 2016 to $204 in 2017, which is a 23% increase.

Similar to last year, the main reason for the projected deductible increase is the projected increase in the Part B premiums. The estimated cost of living adjustment for 2017 is 0.2% which means 70% of Medicare Part B enrollees would only get a 0.2% increase on their Part B premiums due to the Hold Harmless Provision.  This also means that the Part B premium would need to increase 23% so that the remaining 30% of people who would pay the full amount would make up for those only getting a very small bump.  The Part B deductible goes up by the same amount as the full Part B premium, and would also get the 23% increase.

Another interesting point found in the 2016 Medicare Trustees Report is that if the COLA adjustment ends up being 0% (which is what happened last year), instead of 0.2%, then Section 601 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 would trigger again.  This means the Hold Harmless Provision would be ignored for the purposes of calculating the Part B premium.  In this scenario, the Part B deductible would increase more moderately.

Of course, there is also the possibility of Congress getting involved (even if Section 601 isn’t automatically triggered) by passing a temporary fix to temper increases to the Part B premium and deductible.


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