Beginning January 1, 2006, upon voluntary enrollment in either a stand-alone PDP or an integrated Medicare Advantage plan that offers Part D coverage in its benefit, subsidized prescription drug coverage. Most FDA-approved drugs and biologicals are covered. However, plans may set up formularies for their drug coverage, subject to certain statutory standards. (Drugs currently covered in Parts A and B remain covered there.) Part D coverage can consist of either standard coverage or an alternative design that provides the same actuarial value. (For an additional premium, plans may also offer supplemental coverage exceeding the value of basic coverage.) Standard Part D coverage is defined for 2006 as having a $250 deductible, with 25 percent coinsurance (or other actuarially equivalent amounts) for drug costs above the deductible and below the initial coverage limit of $2,250. The beneficiary is then responsible for all costs until the $3,600 out-of-pocket limit (which is equivalent to total drug costs of $5,100) is reached. For higher costs, there is catastrophic coverage; it requires enrollees to pay the greater of 5 percent coinsurance or a small copay ($2 for generic or preferred multisource brand and $5 for other drugs). After 2006, these benefit parameters are indexed to the growth in per capita Part D spending (see Table 2.C1). In determining out-of-pocket costs, only those amounts actually paid by the enrollee or another individual (and not reimbursed through insurance) are counted; the exception is cost-sharing assistance from Medicare’s low-income subsidies (certain beneficiaries with low incomes and modest assets will be eligible for certain subsidies that eliminate or reduce their Part D premiums, cost-sharing, or both) and from State Pharmacy Assistance Programs. A beneficiary premium, representing 25.5 percent of the cost of basic coverage on average, is required (except for certain low-income beneficiaries, as previously mentioned, who may pay a reduced or no premium). For PDPs and the drug portion of Medicare Advantage plans, the premium will be determined by a bid process; each plan’s premium will be 25.5 percent of the national weighted average plus or minus the difference between the plan’s bid and the average. To help them gain experience with the Medicare population, plans will be protected by a system of risk corridors, which allow Part D to assist with unexpected costs and to share in unexpected savings; after 2007, the risk corridors became less protective. To encourage employer and union plans to continue prescription drug coverage to Medicare retirees, subsidies to these plans are authorized; the plan must meet or exceed the value of standard Part D coverage, and the subsidy pays 28 percent of the allowable costs associated with enrollee prescription drug costs between a specified cost threshold ($250 in 2006, indexed thereafter) and a specified cost limit ($5,000 in 2006, indexed thereafter).
Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate
Section 101 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (MIEA-TRHCA) provided a 1-year update of 0% for the conversion factor for CY 2007 and specified that the conversion factor for CY 2008 must be computed as if the 1-year update had never applied. Section 101 of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (MMSEA) provided a 6-month increase of 0.5% in the CY 2008 conversion factor, from January 1, 2008, through June 30, 2008, and specified that the conversion factor for the remaining portion of 2008 and the conversion factors for CY 2009 and subsequent years must be computed as if the 6-month increase had never applied. Section 131 of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) extended the increase in the CY 2008 conversion factor that was applicable for the first half of the year to the entire year, provided for a 1.1% increase to the CY 2009 conversion factor, and specified that the conversion factors for CY 2010 and subsequent years must be computed as if the increases had never applied.
Growth In Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary Continues To Hit Historic Lows
The aging of the US population will put strain on the financing of the Medicare program. Although growth in spending per beneficiary is projected at or below the rate of GDP per capita, the number of Medicare beneficiaries is projected to grow at approximately 3% annually. As a result, aggregate Medicare spending will account for a growing share of GDP over the next decade. As shown in Exhibit 3, most of the increase in Medicare spending as a fraction of GDP from 2013 to 2035 is projected to result from the effects of aging and growth in the number of beneficiaries, with very little of it a result of excess growth in expenditures per beneficiary. Further reducing per beneficiary cost growth below the projected level of GDP+0 is an important component of responding to fiscal pressure. But recent reductions in the growth of Medicare per beneficiary spending and projections for the next decade offer strong evidence that we have made great progress. Moreover, the Affordable Care Act provides a platform for the development of innovations in the delivery of and payment for health care, with the potential for significant improvements in both the quality of health care and its cost-efficiency. Such innovations would not only improve health care for Medicare beneficiaries in the future but also for the population at large.