Medicare announced that the average basic premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2017 will remain fairly stable at a projected $34 a month. This new estimate represents an increase of nearly $1.50 over the average premium of $32.56 for 2016. Although Part D premiums remain relatively stable, Part D costs to continue to rise faster than any other parts of Medicare.
According to CMS this rise is due largely to the high cost of speciality drugs, most notably during the catastrophic coverage period. With all Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, after an enrollee pays a determined amount of out-of-pocket costs for their covered drugs, regardless of their total drug cost, they will reach Catastrophic Coverage in which they will pay a lower cost for their covered prescription drugs.
“Stable Medicare prescription drug plan premiums help seniors and people with disabilities afford their prescription drugs,” said Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
“However, I remain increasingly concerned about the rising cost of drugs, especially high-cost specialty drugs, and the impact of these costs on the Medicare program.” The projection of the average premium for 2017 is based on bids that have been submitted on behalf of drug and health plans for basic drug coverage for the 2017 plan year and it is was calculated by the independent CMS office of Actuary.
Medicare cost for Part D is estimated to increase by an average of 5.8% annually through 2025
which is higher than the combined per-enrollee growth rate of Medicare Part A and Part B. However for seniors and people with disabilities they are continuing to see savings on out of pockets drug costs due to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) closure of the Part D coverage gap, which is also known as “the donut hole.” Since the enactment of ACA, more than 10.7 million people on Medicare have saved over $20.8 billion dollars (an average of $1,945 per enrollee) on prescription drugs.
During Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period, it is encouraged that people with Medicare take some time to review their current prescription drug plan, as well as compare their current plans quality ratings with that of other plan offerings. For those who are making the transition into Medicare, this is a great time to do some research as well as speak with a professional who can help you find the best plan to fit your healthcare needs.