It’s that time of year again — the open season when Medicare beneficiaries keep, change, or make modifications to their prescription drug benefit plans (Part D).
A September 25th Associated Press (AP) article, Report: Double-Digit Premium Hikes Seen in 7 of 10 Top Medicare Prescription Drug Plans appeared online in The Washington Post. Adult children with elder parents should treat this article as an excellent primer that can help them understand more about their parents’ prescription benefits.
The AP article discusses a report by Avalere Health. This report finds that “seniors enrolled in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will be hit with double-digit premium hikes next year if beneficiaries don’t shop for a better deal.” The report/press release is about three pages and includes three easy-to-read tables (see linked image at right).
A Few Highlights and Salient Points from the AP Article
- “The average senior is going to benefit by carefully scrutinizing their situation, because every year the market changes,” Avalere President Dan Mendelson said. Avalere crunched the numbers based on bid documents that the plans submitted to Medicare.
- The report found premium increases for all top 10 prescription drug plans, known as PDPs. However, the most popular plan — AARP MedicareRx Preferred — is going up only 57 cents per month nationally, to $40.42 from the current $39.85.
- The seven plans with double-digit premium increases were: the Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan (23 percent); First Health Part D Premier (18 percent); First Health Part D Value Plus (17 percent); Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One (15 percent); Express Scripts Medicare-Value (13 percent); the HealthSpring Prescription Drug Plan (12 percent); and Humana Enhanced (11 percent).
- Another two plans in the top 10 also had single-digit increases. They were the SilverScript Basic (8 percent) and WellCare Classic (3 percent).
- On the plus side for consumers, a new low-cost plan entered the market. Premiums for the AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus Plan will average $15 a month nationally, although it won’t be available everywhere. That’s $3.50 less than the current low-cost leader, the Humana Walmart plan, whose premiums are rising to $18.50.
- UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest health insurance company, will run the new AARP plan. United pays AARP for the right to use its name on a range of Medicare insurance products, a successful business strategy that has proven lucrative for both partners. When Humana and Walmart teamed up to offer their low-cost plan in 2011, United felt the competition.
- Medicare’s open enrollment season starts Oct. 15, and beneficiaries have a wide variety of choices of taxpayer-subsidized private prescription plans. Seniors and family members can use the online Medicare Plan Finder to input individual prescription lists and find plans in their area that cover them.