Your Guide to Maximizing Medicare

Choosing the best coverage options could save you hundreds of dollars a year

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[Check out these tips for Planning Your End-of-Life Care.]

Get ready for higher premiums. Most Medicare beneficiaries will not see their Medicare Part B premiums increase in the near term because of a law ensuring that premiums do not rise faster than the annual boost in Social Security benefits. (The Congressional Budget Office predicts that there will be no cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 2010 and 2011.) About 75 percent of people will be protected from the premium increase, says Juliette Cubanski, a principal policy analyst at Kaiser. But premiums will rise for new enrollees and existing beneficiaries with a modified adjusted gross income greater than $85,000 ($170,000 for couples) in 2009, according to the Medicare trustees. Medicare Part D premiums are not subject to the same law. Social Security recipients may see reductions in their checks if their prescription drug premiums increase.