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Premiums for Medicare Up

September 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Medicare premiums for most elderly and disabled people will rise to $93.50 per month next year, a 5.6% increase, which is lower than expected.

The news was not as good for wealthier beneficiaries. For the first time in the program's 41-year history, that group will pay more for the insurance that covers doctors' visits and outpatient hospital care, known as Medicare Part B.

The higher payments will apply to about 1.5 million beneficiaries with incomes of more than $80,000 a year. Congress approved means-testing in the 2003 law that created the Medicare drug benefit.

For individuals who earn more than $80,000, or couples who earn more than $160,000, premiums will jump to $106.

Premiums had increased at double-digit percentages for three years, and administration officials said this summer that a similar rise was likely next year.

But the volume of services and tests ordered should grow less than expected, 4.9% next year instead of at least 6%.

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