Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

J.L. Sousa

Dear Tom and Alan:

I’m about to start on Medicare beginning March 1.

I went down to the Social Security Office to sign up, and now own a red, white and blue card that says I have Medicare A and B.

The card also has my Social Security number with a “T” on the end of it. My husband turned 65 a few years ago and his card has his social with an “A” after it.

My big concern isn’t the letters, but the fact that they told me I would be paying $134 per month for my Medicare Part B!

My husband has his Part B deducted from his Social Security check but he only pays about $105!

What’s the deal?

Disgruntled

Tom: Well, Disgruntled, you get to pay $134 per month for your Medicare Part B because you qualify for all three requirements to pay what the government calls the “standard premium amount”:

-You enroll in Part B for the first time in 2017

-You don’t get Social Security benefits

-You’re directly billed for your Part B premiums

Al: That “T” on your Medicare card means you are not currently taking your Social Security benefits so they have to bill you instead of just taking it out each month.

Sometime after your March birthday, you can expect to receive a bill for $402 (3 X $134) to cover your quarterly payment for Part B.

Tom: The IRS gives the information from your 2015 tax return to Social Security in order to determine if you pay $134, or, even more!

For example, if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) from your 2015 was more than $170,000 on your joint return, your premium would be higher.

Here goes: $170,000 to $214,000, your premium would be $187.50; $214,000 to $320,000—$267.90; $320,000 to $428,000—$348.30; above $428,000—$428.60.

Al: This is what the government calls Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA).

We’ve seen occasions when someone has received a windfall for one year and then two years later IRMAA jacks up what they have to pay for Part B.

IRMAA also applies to Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan. For example, if our reader applies for a drug plan beginning in March, she can expect to pay whatever everyone else pays.

Tom: If Disgruntled chooses the least expensive plan out there, the Humana Walmart Plan, at $17 per month, she would pay, of course, $17.

However, using the same MAGI numbers from above, a married filing jointly couple could be charged an additional $13.30, $34.20, $55.20, or $76.20 if above $428,000.

Al: Finally, the “T” on Disgruntled’s Medicare card simply means she is not yet taking Social Security.

The “A” on her husband’s card means that he is. Once she starts, they’ll send her a new card with an “A” on it and deduct Part B from her monthly check.

Submit questions or reach the Health Insurance Guys at Schrette Insurance, 1556 First St., Suite 105, Napa, 94559; 255-9511; schrette@gmail.com; or alancash@gmail.com.

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