CMS on Tuesday announced the average basic premium for Medicare Part D plans is projected to decline in 2019 for the second year in a row, falling from $33.59 this year to $32.50 next year.
Confused about what Part D includes? Get our cheat sheet.
CMS said it will release final premium and cost information for 2019 Part D plans in September. Individuals will be able to enrolled in Part D plans during Medicare's upcoming open enrollment period, which will launch Oct. 15 and end Dec. 7.
Verma touts Trump admin's actions to bring down beneficiaries' costs
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the lower premiums reflect "actions that HHS and CMS are taking to increase competition in order to drive down costs for patients." The agency said those actions include:
- Allowing Part D insurers to more quickly substitute generic drugs into plan formularies;
- Bolstering competition among Part D plans by eliminating requirements that Part D plans must "meaningfully differ" from each other;
- Bolstering competition among pharmacies by clarifying Medicare's "any willing provider" requirements in a way that the agency says could increase Part D beneficiaries' pharmacy options; and
- Lowering the maximum amount that low-income Part D beneficiaries must pay for biosimilars.
Verma said, "CMS will continue to strengthen the Part D program and bolster plans' negotiating power so they can get the best deal for seniors from prescription drug manufacturers" (Jones Sanborn, Healthcare Finance News, 7/31; CMS release, 7/31; Minemyer, FierceHealthcare, 7/31; Colliver, "Pulse," Politico, 8/1).
Medicare 101: Cheat sheets for Parts A through D
Through the years Medicare has grown more complicated, including private supplemental insurance and prescription drug coverage. Download our cheat sheets to learn how each of the four parts of Medicare works, and why they’re so important for provider organizations: