Medicare Part B premiums will increase by 3.1% to $96.40 in 2008, the smallest increase in about six years, Kerry Weems, the CMS acting administrator, has announced.
The premium amount represents an increase of $2.90 from 2007, Weems said. Agency officials attributed the increase to a number of factors, such as growth in certain services such as hospital costs, Medicare Advantage, home health, ambulatory surgery centers and physician laboratory office services.
The agency continues to be concerned about growing healthcare costs, although weve made great progress over the last few years, Weems said.
The 2008 premium increase was much lower than expected and was offset by the correction of an accounting error, agency officials explained.
The formula used to calculate the Part B premium for 2008 assumes that Medicare physicians will face a 10% drop in reimbursement next year. As CMS officials explained, its unlikely that the cut will ever take place considering Congress history of fixing the physician fee schedule at the eleventh hour.
In addition, hospital deductibles for Part A will amount to $1,024 in 2008, an increase of $32 over 2007, Weems said.
The Medicare Part B premium covers physicians services, outpatient hospital services, certain home-health services, durable medical equipment and other items. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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