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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

Part D Rates Edge Higher

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WASHINGTON BUREAU — Average monthly premiums will rise about $2 to $30 for standard Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage next year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says.

The basic premiums paid by Part D enrollees cover about one-fourth of the cost of the standard Part D drug benefit. States usually pay the Part D premiums for low-income enrollees.

The average value of the Part D benefit, premium subsidy, and cost-sharing subsidy for low-income enrollees will be about $4,000 in 2010, CMS officials report.

Premiums and benefits for Medicare Advantage plans and more details about the Part D plans will be announced in September,

CMS officials also will be releasing the list of plans that will be giving up their Medicare contracts in 2010, according to Jonathan Blum, acting director of CMS’ Center for Health Plan Choices.

“The majority of beneficiaries enrolled in prescription drug plans should see only small changes in their Part D premiums or benefits in the coming year,” Blum says.

Officials at America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, welcomed the news about the relatively modest Part D rate increases.

“This is further evidence that Medicare drug plans’ innovative tools and techniques are working to keep prescription drugs affordable and accessible for seniors,” AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach says.

He says the Part D plans have implemented evidence-based formularies and provide incentives for greater use of generic prescription drugs.

“As a result, average premiums for seniors and total costs to taxpayers continue to be much lower than originally projected,” Zirkelbach says. “Moreover, seniors continue to express very high satisfaction with the Part D program.”


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