If you’re an individual eligible for Medicare, this is a very important time of year. Open enrollment for Medicare starts on October 15 and continues through December 7. Open enrollment is the time when individuals turning 65 can enroll in Medicare coverage for the first time. It’s also the one time each year in which existing beneficiaries can shop for new coverage and change plans.
It’s important that you take advantage of this annual opportunity to look at your coverage and make sure it’s meeting your current needs. Your health, treatments and prescription medications can change a lot in a year, so reviewing your costs and coverage can help you determine if you want to stay with your current plan or choose a new plan from multiple available options.
This year, assessing your plan needs is more important than ever since the average basic premium for Part D prescription drug coverage is expected to decrease for 2018!
We’re committed to ensuring you have the resources you need to make the best choices for you or a family member. Basic information and videos on Medicare and Part D are available on our website. We also have a handy enrollment fact sheet in English and in Spanish. Additionally, you can find out if you are eligible for payment assistance through the Extra Help program and how to enroll (Spanish).
Our sister site, Seniors Speak Out, also has additional resources for seniors and will have new blog posts throughout open enrollment offering tips and information on signing up for coverage. Be sure to check back often to get the latest info on signing up during open enrollment.
Happy open enrollment!!
Medicare Advantage premiums decrease, choices increase, while enrollment hits an at all-time high
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that people with Medicare will have more choices and options for their Medicare coverage in 2018. As CMS releases the benefit and premium information for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2018 calendar year, the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan will decrease while enrollment in Medicare Advantage is projected to reach a new all-time high. Earlier this year, CMS announced new policies that support increased benefit flexibilities allowing Medicare Advantage plans the ability to offer innovative plans that fit the needs of people with Medicare.
“More affordable choices lead to greater health security for those who need it most,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Both Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D are providing a higher level of health security for so many of America’s seniors precisely because they are built to be more responsive to their needs. Today’s news, alongside the long-term trend of more folks choosing Medicare Advantage, is a testament to the power of a more patient-centered approach to healthcare.”
“The success of Medicare Advantage and the prescription drug program demonstrates what a strong and transparent health market can do—increase quality while lowering costs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “When Americans are empowered to choose the healthcare plans that fit their needs and the needs of their families, they demand more from their insurance plans and in turn healthcare plans, like any business, provide customers better service at a lower cost.
CMS estimates that the Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will decrease by $1.91 (about 6 percent) in 2018, from an average of $31.91 in 2017 to $30. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of Medicare Advantage enrollees remaining in their current plan will have the same or lower premium for 2018.
Medicare Advantage enrollment is projected to increase to 20.4 million in 2018, a nine percent increase compared to 2017. More than a one-third of all Medicare enrollees (34 percent) are projected to be in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2018.
Access to the Medicare Advantage program remains strong, with 99 percent of people with Medicare having access to a Medicare Advantage plan. The number of Medicare Advantage plans available to individuals to choose from across the country is increasing from about 2,700 to more than 3,100– and more than 85 percent of people with Medicare will have access to 10 or more Medicare Advantage plans. In addition, more Medicare Advantage enrollees are projected to have access to important supplemental benefits such as dental, vision, and hearing benefits.
Medicare Part D prescription drug program access will also remain strong in 2018 with 100 percent of people with Medicare having access to a stand-alone prescription drug plan. Earlier this year, CMS announced that the average basic premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan in 2018 is projected to decline to an estimated $33.50 per month. This represents a decrease of approximately $1.20 below the average basic premium of $34.70 in 2017. The Medicare prescription drug plan average basic premium is projected to decline for the first time since 2012.
This fall, CMS is undertaking several consumer-friendly improvements for Medicare Open Enrollment so that people with Medicare can make an informed choice between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Some of the improvements include:
- Changes in the “Medicare & You” handbook to better explain coverage options;
- Establishing a help wizard on Medicare.gov that will point to resources to help make informed healthcare decisions; and
- Establishing a new email communication opportunity to improve the customer service experience through important messages and reminders.
Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018 Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15, 2017, and ends December 7, 2017. Plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year. People with Medicare should look at their coverage choices and decide the options that best fits their health needs. They can visit Medicare.gov (http://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 re-enroll in order to keep their current coverage.
For more information on the premiums and costs of 2018 Medicare health and drug plans, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prescription-Drug-Coverage/PrescriptionDrugCovGenIn/index.html.
For a fact sheet on Medicare Advantage and Part D in 2018, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-09-29.html
For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment, including state-by-state fact sheets, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Reach-Out/Find-tools-to-help-you-help-others/Open-Enrollment-Outreach-and-Media-Materials.html.
Policymakers Weighing Changes to Prescription Drug Program Must Keep in Mind Seniors’ Approval of Part D’s Choices, Value & Convenience, Medicare Today Chair Said
WASHINGTON – More than a decade after its initial launch, the Medicare Part D prescription drug program remains overwhelmingly popular with American seniors, according to Medicare Today’s annual Senior Satisfaction Survey. The nationwide survey of approximately 2,000 seniors conducted by Morning Consult found that 87 percent are satisfied with their Part D coverage and 90 percent believe their prescription drug costs would be much higher if they didn’t have prescription drug coverage through Part D.
“This survey shows the program continues to work extremely well,” said Mary R. Grealy, chair of Medicare Today and president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from all sectors of American health care. “Part D provides affordable access to prescription medications for seniors and individuals with disabilities, and beneficiaries are satisfied with the choices the program offers. They understand the great value it adds to their lives.”
Sign the letter to Congress
In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA [P.L. 111-148]) created the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a board appointed by the President and empowered to make recommendations to cut spending in Medicare if its spending growth reaches certain arbitrary levels.
Over the last several years many of you have been supportive of efforts to repeal IPAB. To that end, there has been success in building support for repeal through co-sponsorship of IPAB repeal legislation, hearings, votes, teletownhalls, media, and our previous large group sign-on letter efforts.
“Large Majorities Say Their Plan Is a Good Value, Feel Consumer Choice is Important Feature of Part D”
WASHINGTON – Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage continues to enjoy overwhelming approval among the nation’s seniors, according to a nationwide survey released today by Medicare Today. Eighty-nine percent of Americans age 65 and older are satisfied with their coverage and 85 percent say that they consider their Medicare drug plan to be a good value.
The survey of approximately 2,000 seniors – conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the nonpartisan Medicare Today alliance – also found 80 percent of seniors said their total out-of-pocket costs are reasonable.
“No one wants a future in which the only ways to make Medicare financially secure are by reducing access or undermining healthcare quality.”
Today’s report by the Medicare Trustees is a sharp reminder that time is limited for policymakers to take prudent, responsible action to secure Medicare’s financial future for generations to come.
In spite of the successful efforts of multiple health industry sectors to significantly reduce Medicare’s per capita annual cost increases, the Trustees continue to project that Medicare will reach insolvency after 2030. So, according to these projections, today’s 50-year-olds who are beginning to think about their retirement years do not have assurance that Medicare will be a sustainable, affordable program after they reach 65.
Letter to Capitol Hill Says IPAB, Once Implemented, “Would Be Devastating to Patients” and Will Shift Costs to Consumers, Employers
WASHINGTON – Over 500 national and state-based organizations, representing virtually every state in the union, have signed a letter to Congress calling upon lawmakers to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) provision of the Affordable Care Act, an entity they say would impair Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care and remove public accountability from the Medicare decisionmaking process.
The letter reaches Congress at a time in which bipartisan IPAB repeal legislation in the U.S. House – the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act” introduced by Representatives Phil Roe (R-TN) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) – currently has 220 additional cosponsors, a majority of the House.
Visit SeniorsSpeakOut.org for Information on Medicare Part D
To help ensure that seniors, caregivers and advocates get reliable information and engage with one another on issues and best practices critical to older Americans, Medicare Today, an initiative of the Healthcare Leadership Council, has launched the “Seniors Speak Out” interactive website.
75 Percent of Seniors Concerned About Reducing the Number of Part D Plan Choices Available to Them
WASHINGTON – A new nationwide survey of 65-and-older Americans confirmed overwhelming support of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, with 86 percent saying they are satisfied with their plans and similar numbers noting their premiums and co-pays are affordable.
CMS Decision to Not Move Forward with Key Provisions of Proposed Regulations Preserves Integrity, Efficacy of Medicare Prescription Drug Program
WASHINGTON – The Medicare Today coalition today commended the leadership of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its decision to refrain from moving forward with certain provisions of its proposed regulatory changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. CMS, said Healthcare Leadership Council president and Medicare Today co-chair Mary R. Grealy, demonstrated its responsiveness to public concerns about the impact the proposed regulations would have on beneficiaries.