Oct. 29—The recent slowdown in the growth of Medicare costs continued this week when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Part B premiums and deductibles would not increase in 2014.

The agency issued a final rule Oct. 29 that said the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium in 2014 will remain $104.90, the same as it was in 2013. That was the third consecutive year that the premium has either been less than projected or remained the same, CMS noted in a release. Additionally, the Part B deductible also will remain unchanged at $147. The new average deductible also continues a years-long trend of slow growth in expenses, according to CMS.

Also remaining unchanged are the Part B high income-related monthly premiums. Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes—about 5 percent of total beneficiaries--have paid higher Part B monthly premiums since 2007.

Separately, CMS issued a final rule specifying that the Medicare Part A premium, which pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home healthcare services, will drop $15 in 2014 to $426. Only about 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay a Part A premium, either because they lack at least 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment or because they are disability-eligible and have fewer than 30 quarters of coverage.

The Medicare Part A deductible that beneficiaries pay when admitted to the hospital will increase $32 to $1,216 in 2014. That deductible covers beneficiaries' costs for up to 60 days of Medicare-covered inpatient hospital care in a benefit period. Deductibles due for days 61 through 90 will increase $8 to $304 per in 2014, while hospital stays beyond the 90th day will increase $16 to $608 per day.

For beneficiaries in skilled nursing facilities, the daily co-insurance for days 21 through 100 in a benefit period will increase by $4 to $152.00 in 2014.

The agency credited its healthcare reform efforts for the out-of-pocket savings among the newly announced 2014 Medicare beneficiary rates.

“We continue to work hard to keep Medicare beneficiaries’ costs low by rewarding providers for producing better value for their patients and fighting fraud and abuse,” Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of CMS, said in the release. “As a result, the Medicare Part B premium will not increase for 2014, which is good news for Medicare beneficiaries and for American taxpayers.”

Publication Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013