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).
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Medicare 2016 & 2017 costs at a glance
The standard Part B premium amount in 2017 will be $134 (or higher depending on your income). However, most people who get Social Security benefits will pay less than this amount. This is because the Part B premium increased more than the cost-of-living increase for 2017 Social Security benefits. If you pay your Part B premium through your monthly Social Security benefit, you’ll pay less ($109 on average). Social Security will tell you the exact amount you will pay for Part B in 2017. You’ll pay the standard premium amount if:
2010 Medicare Part D Program Compared to 2009, 2008 and 2007
Reference-Based Pricing – Under these programs, sponsors may require enrollees to pay a defined cost-sharing amount plus supplemental cost-sharing based on the differential in cost between the drug being dispensed and a lower-cost preferred alternative such as a generic equivalent. In contract year 2009, fewer than 10% of Part D contracts used reference-based pricing. Given the complexity of reference-based pricing formulas, it is very difficult to accurately convey the extent of expected out-of-pocket spending for formulary drugs subject to reference-based pricing. For this reason, CMS has been unable to have the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder (MPDPF) calculate correct pricing for drugs subject to reference-based pricing, which may distort projections of out-of-pocket expenditures for some beneficiaries and significantly affect their ability to compare cost-sharing obligations under different plans and choose the plan that best meets their needs. Based on CMS’ experience and the increased complexity, CMS has observed with these programs, CMS will eliminate the option of reference-based pricing in the Part D Prescription Benefit Program (PBP) beginning in CY 2010. The basis for this decision is CMS’ belief that reference-based pricing may be inherently misleading to beneficiaries and inconsistent with their goal of improving transparency with regard to expected beneficiary cost-sharing under the Part D program.