For the second year running, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) anticipate Medicare Part D premiums will drop. The change was announced in the 2019 average basic premiums projection. The average premiums are expected to fall $1.09, from $33.59 to $32.50. This follows a $1.20 drop in 2018, which was the first anticipated drop since 2012.

The average premiums for 2019 are expected to fall $1.09, from $33.59 to $32.50.

Each year, this prediction is made by the independent CMS Office of the Actuary. The Office of the Actuary looks at bids that have been submitted for plans offering basic coverage in 2019 and builds the estimates based on these. This estimate is not always reflective of the final average and is only an average. Individuals plans can and will differ, so investigate them prior to enrolling.

Increased Competition

CMS believes these recent drops to be the outcomes of the dual-efforts to increase competition in the Part D plan marketplace and plans’ ability to bargain with drug manufacturers to lower costs.

The actions that HHS and CMS are taking to increase competition in order to drive down costs for patients are working. CMS will continue to strengthen the Part D program and bolster plans’ negotiating power so they can get the best deal for seniors from prescription drug manufacturers. — Seema Verma, CMS Administrator

To enact this plan, CMS has made four changes they anticipate leading to lower drug costs:

  • Reduced the maximum amount that low-income beneficiaries pay for biosimilars
  • Allowed certain generic drugs to be substituted on plan formularies quicker
  • Removed the “meaningfully differ” requirement from certain Part D plans
  • Clarified the “any willing provider” pharmacy requirement to increase the amount of options

What’s Next?

This announcement comes just in time for you to start planning for the 2019 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). This year, AEP will run from Monday, October 15, to Friday, December 7. During AEP, you can enroll in a Medicare Part C or D plan or return to Original Medicare. You can also switch to other Part C or D plans.

During AEP, you can enroll in a Medicare Part C or D plan, switch your plan, or return to Original Medicare.

CMS expects to release Medicare health and drug plans’ premium and cost information for 2019 in mid-to-late September 2018.

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If you’re ready to explore what Medicare plans are available near you, check out Medicareful’s Plan Finder. With the tool, you can compare different plans in your area and get in touch with a licensed sales agent who can help guide you through the enrolling process.

Further Reading — Medicare Part D premiums continue to decline in 2019
Medicareful Living — CMS Predicts Lower Part D Premiums in 2018
Medicareful Living — What is Medicare Part D?