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Changes to Medicare could impact millions of seniors

December 27, 2012

As the country moves closer toward the fiscal cliff, there has been a renewed focus on potential changes to taxes and other expenses, and one of the most significant moves could impact seniors. Millions of Medicare recipients may have to adhere to "income related" premiums that could see them paying around $1,000 more each year, according to The Associated Press.

Currently, the little-known law, which asks well-off seniors to pay a little more on their monthly premiums, impacts around 2 million Medicare recipients. However, some proposals could see that number jump to around 20 million subscribers in the coming months. The extra charges, which are assessed for outpatient care and prescription drugs, are expected to be added to individuals earning $85,000 a year or more. While it may seem unpopular, experts say it's a smart move that's long overdue.

"What we're talking about here is a premium structure that makes sense," Robert Bixby, executive director of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition, told the AP.  "Politicians have been afraid to charge full fare because of public reaction. But that time is coming to an end."

Asking higher-income seniors to pay a little more in premiums could help ensure that Medicare stays secure for years to come, something that is not a certainty. Currently, some experts estimate that the Medicare trust fund could be emptied by as early as 2024, according to USA Today.