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Part D Beneficiaries Have a Wide Array of Good Choices for the 2009 Part D Open Season

Medicare is a Health Insurance Program for people age 65 or older, some disabled people under age 65, and people of all ages with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure treated with dialysis or a transplant). Medicare Part D is insurance that covers both brand-name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies in your area. Medicare prescription drug coverage provides protection for people who have very high drug costs or from unexpected prescription drug bills in the future. Everyone with Medicare is eligible for this coverage, regardless of income and resources, health status, or current prescription expenses.

Medicare prescription drug coverage provides greater peace of mind by protecting you from unexpected drug expenses.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that marketing of plans for Part D coverage in 2009 will begin October 1, 2008. Open enrollment for prescription drug coverage begins November 15 and ends December 31. Beneficiaries are encouraged to review their current coverage as well as the other options available to them so they can find a plan with the combination of cost, coverage, and other features that works best for them.

Nearly All Beneficiaries Can Retain Coverage for No Increase in Premiums. According to CMS, in 2009, approximately 97 percent of beneficiaries enrolled in a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) will have access to Medicare drug and health plans in 2009 whose premiums would be the same or less than their coverage in 2008 (1), and 93 percent of people with Medicare will have access to a MA-PD with a $0 premium and a $0 drug deductible. Also according to CMS, nearly 10 million beneficiaries (about 40 percent) are currently receiving drug coverage for little or no cost through the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) benefit. (2)

Part D Enrollees Have Access to a Wide Array of Good Choices at Low Costs. According to CMS, the national average monthly premium for the basic Medicare drug benefit in 2009 is projected to average approximately $28. (3) However, in every state, beneficiaries not eligible for the full LIS will have access to at least one prescription drug plan with a premium of less than $20 a month, except for beneficiaries living in Alaska who will have access to one prescription drug plan at $23 a month. (4)

Average Part D Beneficiary Premium Is 36% below Original Projections. According to CMS, "competition among plan providers," and "consumer choices of lower-priced drugs" are among the reasons the average premium paid by beneficiaries for standard Part D coverage in 2009 is expected to be $28 (5) -- only three dollars more than 2008, and 36 percent lower than the $44 originally projected for 2009 (6) (see below [7]).

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Spending Growth for Prescription Drugs Has Reached Historic Lows. According to the most recent figures from IMS Health, prescription drug spending in the U.S. health system grew at an annual rate of just 1 percent in the twelve months ending July of this year. (8) IMS Health also reported that retail drug spending in 2007, the second year of Part D’s operation, grew by the lowest rate in 47 years (since 1961—3.8 percent) and 15 percentage points below the peak growth rate in 1999. (9)

Part D Enrollees Are Saving Money. Thus far, beneficiaries have successfully navigated the plan choices available to them and saved money, according to CMS. (10) According to CMS, the average value of the Part D benefit, premium subsidy, and cost-sharing subsidy in 2009 will be $1,200 for the average beneficiary, and about $3,900 for low-income enrollees. (11)

Part D Enrollees Are Overwhelmingly Satisfied with Their Coverage. Recently released polls show consistently that Medicare Part D enrollees are overwhelmingly satisfied with the coverage they are receiving under the Part D program. Of three polls taken within the past 12 months, 85 percent to 89 percent of Part D enrollees have indicated they are either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their coverage. These findings come from polls conducted by Medicare Today, AARP, and The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive. (12)

If you are going to make a change to your current coverage during this open enrollment period, enrolling in your new plan by December 8 helps ensure that you can get the prescriptions you need on January 1st. For more information please contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov.

 

1. CMS Press Release: "CMS Reminds Medicare Beneficiaries To Review And Compare Their Current Drug Coverage." September 25, 2008 www.cms.gov
2. CMS Press Release: "'CMS Reminds Medicare Beneficiaries To Review And Compare Their Current Drug Coverage." September 25, 2008 www.cms.gov
3. CMS Press Release: "CMS Reminds Medicare Beneficiaries To Review And Compare Their Current Drug Coverage." September 25, 2008 www.cms.gov
4. CMS Press Release: "CMS Reminds Medicare Beneficiaries To Review And Compare Their Current Drug Coverage." September 25, 2008 www.cms.gov
5. CMS Press Release: "CMS Reminds Medicare Beneficiaries To Review And Compare Their Current Drug Coverage."' September 25, 2008 www.cms.gov
6. CMS Press Release, "Lower Medicare Part D Costs than Expected in 2009"', August 14, 2008.
7. HHS News Release, "Projected Medicare Costs Drop by 30 Percent" January 8, 2006; CMS Press Release. "'Medicare Drug Plans Strong and Growing"' January 30, 2007; HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, Washington Post op-ed, "Medicare and the Market: Government Shouldn't Be Negotiating Prescription Prices." January 11, 2007; Page A25; CMS Press Release, "Strong Competition and Beneficiary Choices Contribute to Medicare Drug Coverage with Lower Costs than Predicted" August 13, 2007. CMS Press Release, "Lower Medicare Part D Costs than Expected in 2009", August 14, 2008.
8. IMS Health "World Pharmaceutical Market Summary" September 17, 2008. www.imshealth.com
9. IMS Press Release, "IMS Health Reports U.S. Prescription Sales Grew 3.8 Percent in 2007, to $286.5 Billion," March 12, 2008.
10. CMS Press Release, "Strong Competition and Beneficiary Choices Contribute to Medicare Drug Coverage with Lower Costs than Predicted" August 13, 2007.
11. CMS Press Release, "Lower Medicare Part D Costs than Expected in 2009"', August 14, 2008.
12. See Medicare Today, "New Survey Released on Seniors Opinions Regarding Medicare Part D Benefit" November 2007, www.medicaretoday.org; Medicare Rx Education Network, "Senior Impressions of Medicare Part D" November 2007; AARP, "Prescription drugs and Medicare Part D: A report on Access, Satisfaction, and Cost" November 2007; and Wall Street Journal Online, "Seniors Like Their Medicare Drug Plans" December 12, 2007.

 

 

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