Update: Medicare rate increase lower than estimates

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced it will increase 2017 Part B premiums for most OPERS members by $12 per month beginning in January, significantly less than original projections.

This month, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System asked our members and retirees to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to prevent what could have been a $28 monthly increase for the Part B premiums. Part B covers some medical supplies, doctor’s visits and outpatient services.

We thank OPERS members who contacted their representatives about this rate hike, which affects only a few groups. They include OPERS members who do not draw Social Security retirement benefits.

CMS, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said it will use reserve funds to limit the increase to 10 percent of the current monthly premium of $121.80. Health and Human Services has pledged to work with Congress to craft a permanent solution, so it’s helpful that your representatives know your position on the issue.

OPERS believes retired public employees in Ohio should not be part of a minority bearing the brunt of increased Medicare costs. While the 2017 premium is lower than initial forecasts, OPERS staff will continue to seek additional reductions of the Part B increase and to identify a long-term solution to the problem.

We’ve prepared a page on the OPERS website to make it easy to call or write your members of Congress. You can still let your senators and representatives know today that OPERS retirees should not be expected to bear the entire cost of any increase in Medicare Part B premiums.

Michael Pramik

Michael Pramik is communication strategist for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and editor of the PERSpective blog. As an experienced business journalist, he clarifies complex pension policies and helps members make smart choices to secure their retirement.

Michael Pramik

Communication Strategist

  • once again we have to dig into our pockets because social security was not taken out of our checks when it should have been. How can it possibly be legal to throw us to medicare when you never deducted FICA taxes. That alone says that we should still be on an OPERS sponsored plan. Our spouses who are not 65 do not have any affordable health care this year.

  • Just wanted to thank Opers and the retirees that took the time to keep our medical coverage costs down.
    I do have one concern. With our coverage prices rising, why is our HRA program being reduced from 2015 levels? Seems only fair that as our medical insurance costs rise, that our HRA accounts should also rise.
    For me, the 2016 HRA funding seems to have met my basic coverages and I do have a surplus in the account, but I do have out-of-pocket costs that I haven’t submitted for fear of balancing out my account. I don’t want to go into 2017 with a no balance account because it will most likely take OneExchange 60-90 days to get everyone re-enrolled. This will be a difficult transition with spousal coverage being mainly dropped. Our monthly medical insurance costs per month will increase over $350 per month and yet you reduce my HRA. I really don’t understand.

    • With reduction in HRA I have very little to cover Rx and medical out of pocket expenses. I do subscribe to the premium reimbursement as it is automatically processed to be paid out. I have a paper collection with bills that were not sent in for HRA . I did not plan for accountant skills at my age in life. I do not understand the elderly retirees having to keep track of all this billing and copying to get funds.

  • So now that we will have a new president whom will probably not have the “cadillac tax”, are you going to have our insurance rates go down?

  • There should not be any increases for these select few so it’s still not fair so OPERS needs to adjust something for these people, maybe give them $20.00 a month more then they are getting now to compensate, already contacted Congress

  • For those who never worked in the private sector or as in my case, their SS check isn’t enough to cover the cost of Medicare, it is so unfair to absorb a nearly 28% increase in Medicare premiums since 2015! (from $105 to $134/mo) Any consideration by OPERS of those retirees to bump up their HRA a little to help absorb these increases?

  • When will we receive firm numbers for Medicare Part B premiums for 2017 for those getting Social Security? Those persons who have been getting reimbursement from our HRA in 2016 need to revise as OPERS no longer contributes. How will we get the proof required to submit for revised reimbursement amount through One Exchange?

    • Look for your retiree newsletter, hitting mail boxes as early as next week. There is an article with more information, but from what we know:

      On Nov. 10, 2016, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced 2017 premiums for the Medicare inpatient hospital (Part A) and physician and outpatient hospital services (Part B) programs. The projected 20 percent increase in Medicare Part B premiums was reduced to an approximate 10 percent increase.
      This means OPERS retirees who do not draw Social Security retirement benefits or are a recent Medicare beneficiary will see their premiums rise to $134 per month from the current $121.80. Medicare Part B premiums for those who do receive a Social Security benefit will increase from $104.90 to approximately $109. Those who do not qualify for premium-free Medicare Part A will see only a very minimal increase in their 2017 Part A premiums. This will start with 2017 premiums.

  • With the up and coming new president revamping the ACA process, what happens if the non Medicare spouse leaves OPERS health insurance plan and jumps on the marketplace plan and that too becomes affordable when it changes? Are they allowed to re-enroll on the OPERS health plan the next open enrollment or once they leave the plan they can not get back on?

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