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Medicare & Medicaid News

Medicare Saving Big Bucks for Seniors and Taxpayers, Says CMS

News on Obamacare savings on prescription drugs for seniors; new information shows historically low growth in Medicare spending; open enrollment almost over

Medicare Annual Open Enrollment for health and drug plans ends Dec. 7. For more information, compare benefits, prices, including state-by-state fact sheets, Click.  

Nov. 26, 2013 – The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) may be having problems kicking off the health care exchanges for younger Americans, but for seniors it has saved billions of dollars, according to news today from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And, the agency adds, it has reached historically low levels of growth in Medicare spending.

Seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare prescription drug plan coverage saved $8.9 billion to date on their prescription drugs thanks to Obamacare, according to new data released today by CMS.  At the same time, these seniors will be free to use more of their Social Security benefit cost of living adjustment on what they choose because the Medicare Part B premium will not increase in 2014, thanks to the health care law’s successful efforts to keep cost growth low.

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, more than 7.3 million seniors and people with disabilities who reached the donut hole in their Medicare Part D (Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage) plans have saved $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs, an average of $1,209 per person since the program began.

During the first 10 months of 2013, nearly 3.4 million people nationwide who reached the coverage gap -- known as the “donut hole” -- this year have saved $2.9 billion, an average of $866 per beneficiary. These figures are higher than at this same point last year, when 2.8 million beneficiaries had saved $1.8 billion for an average of $677 per beneficiary.

 

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Tips for Senior Citizens to Protect Against Health Care Scams

Scammers are trying to con seniors into giving out sensitive information while signing them up for plans they do not need

Nov. 21, 2013

Flu Vaccine Seems to Offer Seniors Protection from Heart Failure, Heart Attack

Researchers encourage confirmation of this low-cost, annual, safe, easily administered, and well-tolerated therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk up to 50% - see video in story

Oct. 22, 2013

Strange Pricing Details Can Bedevil Medicare Beneficiaries Choosing Drug Plans

Medicare advocates urge seniors to compare plans each year to find a way to save money, but many find the process so complex that they don’t switch

By Susan Jaffe, The KHN Blog

Nov. 13, 2013

Fighting Medicaid Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Through Education - Medicare Blog

By Ted Doolittle, CMS Deputy Director, Center for Program Integrity

Nov. 7, 2013

Medicaid Enrollment is Soaring with Obamacare

Biggest reason for initial jump in Medicaid enrollment is that hundreds of thousands in expansion states have been pre-qualified for expanded Medicaid - see state-by-state report

By Christine Vestal, Stateline

Nov. 7, 2013


 
 

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“Protecting seniors from the dreaded donut hole and high prescription drug costs is an important Affordable Care Act reform that Medicare beneficiaries have come to depend on,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

“Today’s data shows that the law is already helping millions of seniors save billions of dollars off their needed medications.”

For many people enrolled in Medicare Part D, the Medicare “donut hole” is the gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit before catastrophic coverage for prescriptions takes effect. Without Affordable Care Act assistance, Medicare beneficiaries would pay out-of-pocket for the entire cost of prescription drugs once they hit the donut hole, until they reach catastrophic coverage.

But under the discount program in the Affordable Care Act, in 2010, anyone with a Medicare prescription drug plan who reached the prescription drug donut hole got a $250 rebate. In 2011, beneficiaries who landed in the donut hole began receiving discounts on covered brand-name drugs and savings on generic drugs.

Next year, Medicare Part D participants who fall into the donut hole will receive savings of about 53 percent on the cost of brand name drugs and 28 percent on the cost of generic drugs. These savings and Medicare coverage will gradually increase until 2020, when the donut hole will be closed.

Taxpayer Savings by Medicare

News on the continued savings on prescription drugs comes on the heels of new information showing historically low levels of growth in Medicare spending. For example:  

• CMS recently announced that the Medicare’s Part B premium will not increase in 2014, and that the last five years have been among the slowest periods of average Part B premium growth in the program’s history.

• The Part B deductible will also not increase, having decreased in 2014.  The Part B premium and deductible for 2014 are 15 percent below what was projected in 2010, the year the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

• Also as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans remain stable and strong. Earlier this year, CMS announced that the average Medicare Advantage (MA) premium in 2014 is projected to be $32.60. CMS also estimated that the average basic Medicare prescription drug plan premium in 2014 is projected to be $31 per month, holding steady for 4 years in a row. The deductible for standard Part D plans will decline by $15 in 2014, to $310. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, average MA premiums are down by 9.8 percent.  

• Since enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the life of the Medicare trust fund has been extended by nearly ten years, till 2026.

For state-by-state information on savings in the donut hole, please visit: http://downloads.cms.gov/files/SummaryChart2010_October_2013.pdf

For more information about Medicare’s prescription drug benefits, please visit:  http://www.medicare.gov/part-d/.  

The Annual Open Enrollment period for health and drug plans began on October 15 and ends on December 7. For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2014 Medicare health and drug plans, including state-by-state fact sheets, visit: http://www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Open-Enrollment-Center.html.  

 

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