Average Medicare Drug Benefit Premium Set To Increase by $3 in 2008
CMS on Monday announced that average monthly premiums for the Medicare drug benefit will increase to $25 in 2008, up from $22 in 2007, the Baltimore Sun reports (Baltimore Sun, 8/14).
About 87% of beneficiaries will have access to prescription drug coverage at the same cost or less in 2008 than in 2007, according to CMS (CQ HealthBeat, 8/13).
Beneficiaries can access prescription drugs with premiums at the 2007 level by enrolling in a different drug benefit plan during the open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15 (AP/Detroit Free Press, 8/13).
Beneficiaries enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans will see an increase in savings compared with beneficiaries in stand-alone plans in 2008, according to CMS. Beneficiaries in MA plans in 2007 paid $7 less each month for drug coverage premiums than beneficiaries in stand-alone plans; in 2008, beneficiaries in MA plans will pay $11 less for drug coverage (CQ HealthBeat, 8/13).
The increase in premiums primarily is a result of technical adjustments required by law, not because insurers estimated it will cost more to provide drug coverage for beneficiaries (AP/Detroit Free Press, 8/13).
Herb Kuhn, acting deputy administrator of CMS, said that the monthly premiums are able to stay below $41 -- the monthly premium predicted in 2003 when the program was created -- because of "slower-than-expected growth in prescription drug costs generally, in part because of increased generic usage, effective plan negotiation and strong competition" (CQ HealthBeat, 8/13).