Good news! The Medicare Part D premium is expected to drop in 2019. This marks the second straight year of decline. This may come as a surprise to those outside of the healthcare industry as Medicare costs in other areas continue to rise year after year.
Part D premium drop
The Part D premium for 2018 was $33.59. It’s expected to drop 3 percent in 2019 to $32.50. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) say the Part D premium is dropping as a result of the federal government putting pressure on drug manufacturers to lower prices of expensive prescription drugs. This was achieved by the government granting more bargaining power to Part D plans in order to increase competition and drive down prices.
Another change is the drop in Part D surcharges for high-income earners. Surcharges range from $13 to $74.80, but recent laws have added a new top tax bracket, pushing all other brackets down. For example, individuals earning between $85,000 to $107,000 and couples earning between $170,000 to $214,000 will see a surcharge reduction from $13 to $12.40.
Will other Part D prices increase?
It’s a good thing that the Part D premium is dropping, but other Medicare expenses could increase as a result. With the Part D premium dropping, drug plans could decide to raise deductibles and copays as well as cover fewer prescription drugs in order to make up lost revenue. This could end up being more expensive for Medicare beneficiaries in the long run.
It’s wise to reevaluate your prescription drug plan every year and make sure it will cover all of your prescription drugs. If your drug plan changes its formulary, or list of covered drugs, you can change your drug plan during fall open enrollment, which is October 15 – December 7 of each year.