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Medicare Charges to Increase Somewhat in 2001
The cost of Medicare for beneficiaries will rise slightly in 2001, but not nearly as much as had been feared. Monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care, will be $50 starting in January, an increase of $4.50 from 2000. Back in 1997, it was projected that this premium would have swelled to $59.40 by 2001, but the government has successfully held down costs in recent years. The $100 annual deductible for care under Part B will remain unchanged.
As for Medicare Part A, which covers hospitalizations, the new deductible for each "spell of illness" will be $792 in 2001, an increase of $16. This deductible applies during the first 60 days of a hospital stay. If the hospital stay continues beyond 60 days, the patient must begin making coinsurance payments that will rise to $198 a day in 2001. Beyond day 90, a patient must tap into his or her 60-day lifetime reserve. The coinsurance payments for each day of the 60-day lifetime reserve will be $396 in 2001.
The copayment for skilled nursing facility coverage, which begins on day 21 of a nursing home stay, will climb to $99 a day in 2001. This copayment. is always one-eighth of the initial hospital deductible.