Medicare Part B Premiums for 2012 Lower Than Projected

Medscape Medical News

October 28, 2011 — More prudent use of medical services and tougher competition among healthcare providers has slowed the growth of Medicare spending, allowing for Part B premiums to be lower than projected, federal health officials said yesterday.

After 2 years of no increases in Part B premiums, beneficiaries will pay $3.50 more per month in 2012. The Medicare Trustees had projected a $10 monthly increase earlier this year, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a telephone news conference.

Premiums for 2012 are lower than expected because of lower utilization and spending growth throughout the program. "We're seeing more prudent use of healthcare services," Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Deputy Administrator John Blum said.

"Medicare beneficiaries are better informed about their choices," CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, said. "There's more transparency and competition on the provider side. That trend affects the way providers can manage resources more favorably."

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