2020 brings higher Medicare Part B costs

The cost to consumers for Medicare Part B is going up in 2020.

The Part B premium will increase from $135.50 a month to $144.60, and the annual deductible will rise from last year’s $185 to $198 in 2020.

The increases, which took effect Jan. 1, were revealed last November by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — the federal agency that administers the national healthcare programs – and came on the heels of an announcement of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits for 2020. This year, individuals’ benefits will increase 1.6 percent in their Social Security benefits, or about $24 per month.

While the Part B premium increase will be offset by the COLA for many beneficiaries, any relief that was expected from the COLA will be diminished for Medicare households with budgets that are already strained, according to Medicare Rights Center, a non-profit, national advocate for older adults and the disabled. The organization said half of all people with Medicare have annual incomes of $26,200 or less and struggle to pay for healthcare, including prescription drugs.

According to CMS, the increase in the Part B premium and deductible is due to rising spending on physician-administered drugs. Those costs have a ripple effect and drive up the premium and deductible.

Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, and durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes and oxygen systems  that aren’t covered by Medicare Part A.