Medicare Advantage Remains Strong

Enrollment in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is expected to increase 11% in the next year and premiums will remain steady, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen 10% and enrollment has risen 28%. Access to the Medicare Advantage program will remain strong, with 99.6% of beneficiaries having access to a plan. Additionally, the number of plan choices will increase by 7% in 2013.

Sebelius said, “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug programs have been strengthened…Since the law was enacted in 2010, average premiums have gone down; enrollment has gone up; and new benefits and lower drug costs continue to help millions of seniors and people with disabilities.”

For the third year in a row, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) used authority provided by the Affordable Care Act to protect beneficiaries from significant increases in costs or cuts in benefits. Access to supplemental benefits remains steady and beneficiaries’ average out-of-pocket spending remains constant. The average Medicare Advantage premium in 2013 is expected to increase only $1.47 from last year, coming to $32.59. However, the average premium would only increase 57 cents if, in 2013, if beneficiaries choose lower cost plans at the same rate they did in 2012.

Last month, CMS announced said that the basic Medicare prescription drug plan premium is expected to be $30 in 2013, holding steady from last year. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, coverage for brand name and generic drugs in the Part D donut hole coverage gap will continue to increase until 2020 when the gap is closed. In 2013, Medicare Part D’s coverage of brand name drugs will begin to increase. People with Medicare will get about 53% off the cost of brand name drugs. They will also get coverage for 21% of the cost of generic drugs.

Since the health reform law was enacted, 5.4 million people with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs in the donut hole. The annual open enrollment period for health and drug plans begins on October 15 and ends December 7. For more information, visitwww.cms.gov/center/openenrollment.asp.

Last Updated 8/2/2017

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