Dear Savvy Senior,

What will Medicare premiums and deductibles cost seniors in 2012?

-- Looking Ahead

Dear Looking,

The new Medicare premium, deductible and co-pay charges for 2012 were announced recently, and the news was actually good. Here's a breakdown of what retirees can expect to pay for Medicare starting in January.

For most Medicare beneficiaries who enrolled in 2009 or earlier, your monthly premiums for Part B (which covers doctor visits and outpatient care) will increase only by $3.50 to $99.90 in 2012. That's much less than was predicted earlier in the year.

The increase is the first in four years for most people with Medicare, mainly because of the federal law freezing Part B premiums when there's no Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which was the case in 2010 and 2011. But it was announced there would be a 3.6 percent COLA for 2012.

That 3.6-percent increase will boost monthly Social Security checks by about $43 for retirees next year, so even after your Part B premiums get deducted, you'll still have about $40 more each month.

The news for younger retirees is even better. Medicare Part B beneficiaries who enrolled in 2010 who've been paying $110.50 per month, and those who enrolled this year, will see their Part B premiums go down to $99.90.

And for high-income beneficiaries who've been paying higher Part B premiums because their annual incomes are more than $85,000, or $170,000 for joint filers, they will see their monthly Part B premiums drop in 2012.

For more information, see medicare.gov/cost or call (800) 633-4227.

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