The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced last week that 2017 Medicare Advantage premiums will remain stable and more enrollees will have access to higher quality plans while, for the seventh straight year, enrollment is projected to increase to a new all-time high. In addition, CMS released updated information that shows that millions of seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare continue to enjoy prescription drug discounts and affordable benefits as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The announcement comes as CMS releases the premiums and costs for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2017 calendar year.
CMS estimates that the average Medicare Advantage monthly premium will decrease by $1.19 (about 4 percent) in 2017, from $32.59 on average in 2016 to $31.40. This would be 13 percent lower than the average Medicare Advantage premium prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act. The majority of Medicare Advantage enrollees (67 percent) will experience no premium increase.
“Medicare Advantage and the prescription drug benefit continue to be a great option for seniors and people living with disabilities,” said Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator. “Medicare enrollees will continue to have access to predictable premiums and high quality care.”
Access to the Medicare Advantage program will remain strong, with 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries having access to a Medicare health plan. In addition, in 2017, more Medicare Advantage plans will offer more supplemental benefits for enrollees, such as dental, vision, and hearing benefits.
Enrollment is projected to increase to 18.5 million enrollees next year, a 60 percent increase from 2010. In 2017, 32 percent of all Medicare enrollees will be in a Medicare Advantage plan compared to only 24 percent in 2010.
Average premiums in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will also remain stable and beneficiaries have saved billions on prescription drugs. In July 2016, CMS announced that the average basic premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan in 2017 is projected to be an estimated $34 per month. Today’s projections show that access to a prescription drug plan will remain strong in 2017, with 100 percent access to a plan in the individual market and improved access to employer plans.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare are seeing reduced costs through both savings on covered brand-name and generic drugs and access to certain preventive services with no cost sharing. Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act through July 2016, more than 11 million seniors and people with disabilities have received savings and discounts in the coverage gap of over $23.5 billion on prescription drugs, an average of $2,127 per beneficiary thanks to the law.
Medicare Open Enrollment for 2017 Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15, 2016 and ends on December 7, 2016. Plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year. Medicare beneficiaries should look at their coverage choices and decide what options best meet their needs. Beneficiaries can visit Medicare.gov (http://www.medicare.gov), call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Beneficiaries who are satisfied with their current coverage do not need to do anything.
For more information on the premiums and costs of 2017 Medicare health and drug plans, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/index.html
For a fact sheet on Medicare Advantage and Part D, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2016-Fact-sheets-items/2016-09-22.html
For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment, including state-by-state fact sheets, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Reach-Out/Find-tools-to-help-you-help-others/Open-Enrollment-Outreach-and-Media-Materials.html
For state-by-state information on discounts in the donut hole, please visit: https://downloads.cms.gov/files/Medicare%20Part%20D%20donut%20hole%20by%20state%20YTD2016%20through%20July%202016.pdf
For state-by-state information on utilization of preventive services at no cost sharing to beneficiaries in Medicare, please visit: https://downloads.cms.gov/files/Medicare_Beneficiaries_Utilizing_Free_Preventive_Services_by_State_YTD2016.pdf