Premium Rates May Skyrocket For Many Medicare Drug Plans
Millions of seniors could see double-digit premium hikes in their Medicare drug plans.
The Associated Press: "A new analysis of government data finds that premiums will go up an average of 10 percent among the top plans that have signed up some 70 percent of seniors. That's according to Avalere Health, a private research firm that crunched the numbers. Marketing for next year's drug plans gets under way Oct. 1, and seniors will see some of the biggest changes since the Medicare prescription benefit became available in 2006. More than 17 million are enrolled in private drug plans offered through Medicare." On the positive side, the program's benefits "will improve with a new 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs for those who land in the program's coverage gap, the dreaded 'doughnut hole.'" Avalere adds that three million seniors will see their plans discontinued.
"Margaret Nowak, who worked on the study for Avalere, said the jump is due partly to Medicare's restructuring and partly to the plan offering better coverage in the doughnut hole, including some brand-name drugs. Only about one-third of plans will offer coverage in the gap next year, mainly for generics" (Zaldivar, 9/23).
The Hill: "Of the top 10 drug plans catering to Medicare patients, seven are projected to increase their premiums next year between [3 and 43] percent, Avalere estimates. The remaining three plans - including the top plan by enrollment, AARP's MedicareRx Preferred - Avalere says will decrease rates, between [2 and 11] percent. Two of the top 10 stand-alone drug plans - AARP's MedicareRx Saver and Universal American's PrescribaRX Bronze - are not being offered next year at all, shifting those patients (automatically) into different plans offered by the same sponsors, Avalere notes" (Lillis, 9/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.