Washington — Senior citizens and the disabled will have to pay a monthly Medicare premium of $88.50 next year for doctor's visits and other services.
The $10.30 increase amounts to 13.2 percent.
The increase in premiums for Medicare Part B was in line with what government actuaries had been predicting. Even so, the Bush administration tried to lessen the pain of the announcement by touting the new prescription drug benefit that begins Jan. 1.
Under the program, millions of low-income Americans will have their prescription drug costs covered almost entirely, and many other beneficiaries should see their out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs decrease.
"Next year, people on Medicare will be getting much more in benefits than they had previously received," said Herb Kuhn, director of the Center for Medicare Management, part of the Health and Human Services Department.