Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Medicare Part D Premiums Expected to Remain Stable

A Guest Post by Betty Hill

Medicare average prescription drug premiums will not increase next year. That’s good news from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“Smart seniors might even be able to lower their costs,” suggests Betty Hill, insurance broker at http://www.MedicareSupplementPlans.com, “by shopping around during open enrollment season this

What You Might Expect for Medicare Part D in 2012

While the HHS predicts the average premium for next year will be around $30 (it’s currently $30.76), it’s important to note that the estimate is only an average. There is no guarantee that everyone will have the same experience. In fact, some Medicare beneficiaries are apt to see an increase. But there are options and there will likely be bargains available for seniors during open enrollment.

Experts suggest that the stability of the program is probably due to an increase in the use of generic medications along with more competition within the Medicare program itself. And as more generic products enter the fray to compete against the top-selling brand name drugs, the situation could continue to improve.

Benefits Medicare Beneficiaries Have Already Reaped

Medicare covers about 47 million seniors and disabled people. And nearly 1 million of those with high drug costs have already received a 50% discount on brand name drugs this year alone due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The expectation is that as more people fall into the doughnut hole the number who benefit from the savings will increase.

In addition, a new study published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the savings that seniors get from participating in Medicare Part D may extend beyond just the cost of medications. Medicare Part D participants seem to have lower hospital and nursing home bills as well. This may, in part, be due to easier access to the medications that keep them healthy.

The Medicare program has reaped the benefits of Medicare Part D as well. Estimates indicate that Medicare Part D has saved the Medicare program an average of $1,200 a year for every senior who had no coverage or inadequate benefits prior to when the program was launched in 2006. Much of the savings was due to the reduction in the need for hospitalization and nursing home stays.

Other Savings Under ACA

Medicare beneficiaries have been taking advantage of other benefits afforded them under the ACA as well. These include free preventive services and the new annual wellness visit. According to government figures over 50% of those with original Medicare received one or more free preventive service between January 1 and July 2011. Plus a smaller number have taken advantage of the wellness visit.

“Medicare beneficiaries should still carefully compare their current coverage to make sure it fits their needs,” notes Hill. For Medicare patients who are looking for the best place to shop and compare Medicare supplement insurance plans, it is easy to get all the information they need just by visiting http://www.MedicareSupplementPlans.com.

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