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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Medicare Premiums Are Going Down: How Much Will You Save?

(CBS/AP) For seniors worried about the high cost of private health insurance plans arranged through Medicare, the Obama administration has a rare upbeat message: Your premiums may be going down.

The average monthly premium in so-called Medicare Advantage plans will dip to about $35, a roughly 50-cent or 1 percent cut.  About 11 million seniors - one-fourth of beneficiaries - are signed up in the plans, and Medicare projects enrollment to increase by 5 percent in 2011.

 The fate of the plans has been a source of concern because the new health care law cuts payments to the private insurance companies that operate them. However, payment rates are frozen for 2011 and significant reductions are still a couple of years away.

 Administration officials say the program is strong, and they expect it to stay that way in the future.  "The plans know in advance what the law says for the future, and despite that they remain very strongly committed to the program," said Jonathan Blum, head of the Medicare division that oversees the plans. "We believe that the program will be stronger and provide better value."

 Nonetheless, averages are just that. Some seniors will see higher premiums, while others will see a drop. Because of that, advocates encourage Medicare beneficiaries to shop around each year during open enrollment season, which starts Nov. 15.

Courtesy of CBS News.


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