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Medicare Advantage Premiums
Medicare Advantage Premiums Continue to Decline While Plan Choices and Benefits Increase in 2019
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced that, on average, Medicare Advantage premiums will decline while plan choices and new benefits will increase next year. In addition, Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to reach a new all-time high with more than 36 percent of Medicare beneficiaries projected to be enrolled in Medicare Advantage in 2019. This news comes as the agency releases the benefit and premium information for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2019 calendar year.
Enrollment projected to increase while plans offer new types of supplemental benefits
The Medicare Advantage average monthly premium continues to steadily decline, and will be the lowest in the last three years. On average, Medicare Advantage premiums in 2019 is estimated to decrease by six percent to $28, from an average of $29.81 in 2018. Nearly 83 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees remaining in their current plan will have the same or lower premium in 2019. Approximately 46 percent of enrollees in their current plan will have a zero premium.
Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to increase to an all-time high from the current enrollment of 20.2 million to 22.6 million in 2019, an 11.5 percent increase compared to 2018.
As a result of the new flexibilities on supplemental benefits available for the first time in 2019, about 270 plans are providing nearly 1.5 million enrollees with access to the following new types of benefits:
Expanded health related supplemental benefits, such as adult day care services, in-home support services, caregiver support services, home-based palliative care and therapeutic massage; and
Reduced cost sharing and additional benefits for enrollees with certain conditions, such diabetes and congestive heart failure, due to the agency’s reinterpretation of uniformity.
The access to new supplemental benefits is a positive start for 2019, and CMS expects continued growth in 2020, as plans take advantage of these new flexibilities to attract new beneficiaries. In addition, more Medicare Advantage enrollees are projected to have greater access to important supplemental benefits such as dental, vision, hearing, over-the-counter items, meals, nursing hotlines and transportation for medical services (for example, doctor visits). Access to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program remains universal in 2019 with 100 percent of beneficiaries having access to a standalone prescription drug plan. Earlier this year, CMS announced that, for a second year in a row, the average monthly basic Part D premiums are expected to fall from $33.59 this year to $32.50 next year. The agency had announced several changes in the Part D program to provide Part D plans with additional tools to strengthen negotiations with drug manufacturers to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Medicare Open Enrollment for 2019 Medicare health and drug plans begins on
October 15, 2018,
December 7, 2018.
As the 2019 Medicare Open Enrollment period approaches, CMS is continuing to improve the Megalocardia website for Medicare plan selection, so beneficiaries can more easily compare options and choose the plan that best fit their needs. Plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so people with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide on the options that best fits their health needs. They can visit Medicare.gov (https://www.medicare.gov), call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact their State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Those people with Medicare who do not wish to change their current coverage do not need to reenroll in order to keep their current coverage.