Monthly Medicare premiums for physician visits will jump from $78.20 to $87.70 next year, a 12% increase that will affect Part B patients who elect to pay premiums, according to a report last week by Medicare and Social Security Trustees. The costs could go even higher if reductions are not made in doctors' reimbursements, the CMS said Friday. Assuming lawmakers do not pass legislation this year to block cuts, physicians will see a 5% cut in their reimbursement rates starting in 2006. Physician reimbursement rates have increased by 1.5% annually the past two years while Part B premiums rose 17% this past year. The CMS claims that if doctor reimbursement rates continue to rise, Medicare beneficiaries would continue to see double-digit premium increases. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association predicts some of its members will stop seeing Medicare patients if reimbursement rates take a hit. An independent advisory panel appointed by Congress has suggested a 2.7% increase in reimbursements. -- by Ralph Loos
Medicare Part B premiums will see double-digit hike
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