Medicare PDP premiums will increase slightly

Most Medicare beneficiaries currently enrolled in prescription drug plans will not see a significant change in premiums in 2010, but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says some may need to take steps to ensure that they continue to have coverage when open enrollment begins later this year.

Jonathan Blum, acting director of CMS’s Center for Health Plan Choices, says, “Although most Part D plans should have relatively stable premiums, all beneficiaries should compare their current coverage with the plans that will be offered in 2010 when information becomes available in October.”

Reviewing bids submitted by Part D plans, CMS says that the average monthly premium that beneficiaries will pay for standard Part D coverage will be about $30. That’s up just $2 from the average premium in 2009.

Beneficiaries are encouraged to review the list of plans that are not renewing their contracts with Medicare for 2010, however.

The Boards of Trustees for Medicare report annually to Congress on the financial operations and actuarial status of the program. The Trustees Report contains a substantial amount of information on the past and estimated future financial operations of the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds.

The basic premiums paid by Part D beneficiaries cover about one fourth of the cost of the standard Part D benefit. Beyond this limit, the beneficiary will pay all the drug costs until his total out-of-pocket expenditures reach the catastrophic threshold.

Enrollees with low incomes qualify for subsidies that typically cover the full amount of these premiums. About 10 million beneficiaries qualify for the low-income subsidy benefit, estimated to have a value of $4,000 in 2010.

Source: 2009 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust

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