Good news for those with Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D plans–premiums are expected to drop by an average of 14 percent in 2020, decreasing from $26.87 in 2019 to $23. Compared to 2018 premiums, this will be a decrease of 23 percent. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) this is the lowest Medicare Advantage premiums have been since 2007.
Other Medicare Advantage changes in 2020
In an announcement about the premiums decrease, CMS administrator, Seema Verma, said, “These dramatically lower costs in Medicare Advantage and Part D, thanks to President Trump’s leadership, means that we are putting dollars back into the pockets of our seniors.”
Other positive changes for Medicare Advantage in 2020 include:
- 1,200 additional plans to choose from;
- Expanded benefits; and
- The highest enrollment rate ever.
CMS estimates a record-breaking Medicare Advantage enrollment of 24.4 million in 2020, representing over 40 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries.
At a Medicare Advantage Summit in July, Verma said, “As head of the nation’s largest insurer–Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare exchanges–I see the day to day challenges of government-run programs, and am deeply concerned about the proposals we have seen to upend healthcare in America, particularly Medicare for All and the public option.”
Five senators’ problems with Medicare Advantage
Verma and CMS may feel that Medicare Advantage plans are superior to the Medicare for All option, but some Congressional leaders are not so sure.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), champion and author of the Medicare for All bill, joined with five other senators to write a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about some of Medicare Advantage’s shortfalls.
In the letter, the senators remind HHS and CMS that Medicare Advantage plans routinely overbill consumers and the government, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Just this year, Medicare Advantage plans were ordered to return $1.3 billion to consumers they charged with too-high premiums.
The senators also critiqued CMS’s oversight of Medicare Advantage plans in general. They specifically noted CMS’s failure to correct Medicare Advantage’s denials of care, overbilling of consumers and the government, and unhealthy performance among the privately-sold plans.
Near the end of the letter, the senators also requested transparency from CMS, implying that the agency may be steering new enrollees toward Medicare Advantage plans with targeted advertising and marketing campaigns.
In closing, the senators said, “[It] is past time for CMS to engage in regular oversight and enforcement of MA plans to ensure overpaid taxpayers dollars are recouped in a timely manner and MA plans are held accountable for their deficiencies.”
Medicare open enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7. If you’re new to Medicare or looking to change plans, you can use Medicare’s Plan Finder to compare and see which one is right for you.