The government says Medicare's basic monthly premium will go up significantly less than expected next year.
It works out to an additional $3.50 a month for most seniors instead of the $10.20 forecast in May.
Score it as a political break for President Barack Obama and the Democrats, who have been struggling with senior voters since the health care overhaul law cut Medicare spending.
Officials said Thursday the Part B premium for outpatient care will be $99.90 a month for 2012.
That means the three-fourths of Medicare recipients whose premiums have been frozen at the 2008 rate of $96.40 a month keep more of next year's highly anticipated Social Security raise.
Some younger beneficiaries who enrolled recently have been paying $115.40. They'll save $15.50 a month.