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Besides, they are still paying less than I was when buying private health insurance before I went on Medicare.

I think this is one important factor when folks talk about Medicare and the premiums. Most folks got health insurance from their employer during the pre-Medicare years, and they usually paid very little for it, thus having no idea how much it really cost. When these folks hit 65, they go on Medicare, which they always thought was free, but it's not. Assuming they worked enough, then Medicare Part A is free, subject to some minimal dedutibles. Medicare Part B isn't free. The base premium this year is around $99, with higher AGI folks paying much more. Then you have Medigap, which can cost another $100 or likely more per year. Then you have drug plans that can cost anywhere from minimal to $100 per month. Added together, Medicare with all the extra (and usually necessary) add-ons costs around $4K to $5K per year per person. So, a married couple might end up paying as much as $10K per year for full Medicare coverage with all the added features. For someone who had been paying maybe $2K or so per year for full subsidized coverage through their employer, this represents a huge increase for them. For those of us who were paying for individual policies with companies like Blue Cross, it represents at least a 50% reduction, usually more after you include Blue Cross deductibles and co-insurance. Now, just think: The Dems and the Repubs are both getting ready to jack up the premiums for folks with more than minimal AGIs as part of the fiscal cliff fix, so gosh knows what the premiums will look like if the future for Medicare.
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