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CMS Announces Average Medicare Part D Drug Premium Expected to Dip in 2018

Washington, DC, August 4, 2017 — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on August 2 announced that the average basic premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2018 is projected to decline to an estimated $33.50 per month.

This represents a decrease of approximately $1.20 below the actual average premium of $34.70 in 2017.

Some 43 million seniors have Medicare “Part D” prescription coverage.

“We are committed to making prescription drug plan premiums affordable so that seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare can access the prescription drugs that they need,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

“This projection is a step forward in fulfilling the Trump Administration’s promise to lower the cost of prescription drug coverage, particularly for Medicare beneficiaries.”

The decline in the average premium comes despite the fact that spending for the Part D program continues to increase faster than spending for other parts of Medicare, largely driven by spending on high-cost specialty drugs.

As the recent 2017 Medicare Trustees reported noted, growth in Medicare spending on prescription drugs continues to exceed growth in other Medicare spending and in overall U.S. healthcare spending.

The projection for the average premium for 2018 is based on bids submitted by drug plans for basic drug coverage for the 2018 benefit year and calculated by the independent CMS Office of the Actuary.

The upcoming annual Medicare open enrollment period begins on October 15, 2017, and ends on December 7, 2017.

During this time, Medicare beneficiaries can choose health and drug plans for 2018 by comparing their current coverage and plan quality ratings to other plan offerings or choose to remain in traditional Medicare. CMS anticipates releasing the premiums and costs for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2018 calendar year in mid-September.

To view the 2018 Part D base beneficiary premium, the Part D national average monthly bid amount, the Part D regional low-income premium subsidy amounts, the de minimis amount, the Part D income-related monthly adjustment amounts, the Medicare Advantage employer group waiver plan regional payment rates, and the Medicare Advantage regional PPO benchmarks, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/MedicareAdvtgSpecRateStats/Ratebooks-and-Supporting-Data.html and select “2018.”