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Medicare & Medicaid News

Cost of Medicare drug plans for seniors remains flat for fourth year in a row

Other good news celebrating 48th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid is Obamacare has saved seniors and other beneficiaries $7 billion in prescription drug cost

Open Enrollment Oct. 15 - Dec. 7

Medicare open enrollment begins October 15, ends December 7 - allows people with Medicare to choose their plans for 2014 by comparing their current coverage and quality ratings to other plans offered.

July 31, 2013 – Health and Human Services celebrated the 48th anniversary of the signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law with the release of data showing that the average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 is projected to remain stable, at an estimated $31 per month.

This news comes, says HHS, as seniors and people with disabilities continue to save money on out of pocket drug costs. On Monday, HHS announced that more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, an average of $1,061 per beneficiary. The Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time.

“Seniors are benefiting from improved benefits and low premiums, thanks to a competitive and transparent marketplace for Medicare drug plans,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

 

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Medicare Stepping Up Plans for Linking Doctor Pay to Quality of Care Rather Than Quantity

Current system encourages physicians to do more procedures that pushes Medicare cost higher

By Jordan Rau, KHN Staff Writer
This KHN story was produced in collaboration with The Washington Post

July 23, 2013


 
 

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For the fourth straight year, the average Medicare Part D monthly premium will remain steady, and is projected to be $31.

For the last three years – for plan years 2011, 2012, and 2013 – the average premium was projected to be $30. Today’s projection for the average premium for 2014 is based on bids submitted by drug and health plans for basic drug coverage during the 2014 benefit year, and calculated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary. 

CMS has already announced that key parameters for Part D will actually be lower in 2014 than in 2013. For example, the Part D deductible will fall from $325 to $310, producing additional savings for enrollees.

The upcoming annual open enrollment period - which begins October 15 and ends December 7 - allows people with Medicare, working with their families and their caregivers, to choose their plans for next year by comparing their current coverage and quality ratings to other plan offerings. New benefit choices are effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Savings on Prescription Drugs Donut Hole

Because of the Affordable Care Act, out-of-pocket savings on medications for people with Medicare continue to grow. Over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs in the Medicare Part D donut hole since the law was enacted, for an average of $1,061.

People with Medicare in the donut hole now receive discounts and some coverage when they purchase prescription drugs at a pharmacy or order them through the mail, until they reach the catastrophic coverage phase. The Affordable Care Act gave those who reached the donut hole in 2010 a one-time $250 check, then began phasing in discounts and coverage for brand-name and generic prescription drugs beginning in 2011. The law will provide additional savings each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

Preventive Services

By making certain preventive services available with no cost-sharing obligations, the Affordable Care Act is helping Americans take charge of their own health.  Americans can now better afford to work with health care professionals to prevent disease, detect problems early when treatment works best, and monitor health conditions.

In Medicare, the Affordable Care Act eliminated coinsurance and the Part B deductible for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings and other important benefits. For example, before the law’s passage, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 in cost-sharing for some colorectal cancer screenings. Today, that screening is free.

In the first six months of 2013, 16.5 million people with traditional Medicare took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

>> To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, go to www.healthcare.gov.

>> For more information on how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole, please visit: http://www.medicare.gov/part-d/costs/coverage-gap/part-d-coverage-gap.html  

>> More at HHS on Facebook, HHS on Twitter @HHSgov, and sign up for HHS Email Updates
Follow HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Twitter @Sebelius

 

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