Medicare Issues Projected Drug Premiums for 2018
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on August 2, 2017 that the average basic premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2018 is projected to decline to an estimated $33.50 per month This represents a decrease of approximately $1.20 below the actual average premium of $34.70 in 2017.
“We are committed to making prescription drug plan premiums affordable so that seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare can access the prescription drugs that they need,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “This projection is a step forward in fulfilling the Trump Administration’s promise to lower the cost of prescription drug coverage, particularly for Medicare beneficiaries.”
The decline in the average premium comes despite the fact that spending for the Part D program continues to increase faster than spending for other parts of Medicare, largely driven by spending on high-cost specialty drugs. As the recent 2017 Medicare Trustees reported noted, growth in Medicare spending on prescription drugs continues to exceed growth in other Medicare spending and in overall U.S. healthcare spending.
The projection for the average premium for 2018 is based on bids submitted by drug plans for basic drug coverage for the 2018 benefit year and calculated by the independent CMS Office of the Actuary.
The upcoming annual Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15, 2017, and ends on December 7, 2017. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can choose health and drug plans for 2018 by comparing their current coverage and plan quality ratings to other plan offerings or choose to remain in traditional Medicare. CMS anticipates releasing the premiums and costs for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2018 calendar year in mid-September.
To view the 2018 Part D base beneficiary premium, the Part D national average monthly bid amount, the Part D regional low-income premium subsidy amounts, the de minimis amount, the Part D income-related monthly adjustment amounts, the Medicare Advantage employer group waiver plan regional payment rates, and the Medicare Advantage regional PPO benchmarks, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/MedicareAdvtgSpecRateStats/Ratebooks-and-Supporting-Data.html and select “2018.”
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The SHIPs were originally established to address the confusion caused by the increase in choices of Medicare Supplemental Insurance, or Medigap. Since the program’s inception, however, the role of the SHIPs in serving people with Medicare has greatly expanded. Today, trained counselors offer information, counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries on a wide range of Medicare and Medicaid, and Medigap matters, including, Medicare Advantage health plan options, long-term care insurance, claims and billing problem resolution, information and referral on public benefit programs for those with limited income and assets, and other health insurance benefit information. In addition, SHIPs also support efforts to inform Medicare beneficiaries about fraud and abuse.