There will be three "standard" Part B premium levels next year, a situation brought about by the freezing of Social Security cost-of-living adjustments in 2010 and 2011. Under existing law, when COLAs do not rise, standard Part B premiums must be frozen too — but only for people whose premiums are deducted from their Social Security checks. This means that in 2011 many people will pay the same premiums as they did in 2009 or 2010, but others will pay the new higher standard amount for 2011.
Medicare Premium rates, Medicare coinsurance rates, and Medicare deductibles Rates for 2011
Medicare Part A: Medicare part A pays for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing facilities, and some other healthcare benefits. For each benefit period Medicare will pay all covered costs except the Medicare Part A deductible during the first 60 days (In 2011 the Medicare Part A deductible is $1,132), and coinsurance amounts for hospital stays that last between 60 days and no more than 150 days.
Annual Statistical Supplement, 2011
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).
2011 Medicare Part D Program Compared to 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007
Pharmaceutical manufacturers will be required to provide certain beneficiaries access to discount prices for certain brand drugs purchased under Medicare Part D. The manufacturer discount prices will be equal to 50% of the plan’s negotiated price defined (minus any applicable dispensing fees). These discount prices must be applied prior to any prescription drug coverage or financial assistance provided under other health benefit plans or programs and after any supplemental benefits provided under the Part D plan. The discounted prices will be charged at the pharmacy (point-of-sale). The beneficiary will not have to do additional paperwork, etc. to receive the benefit. These manufacturer discount prices will be made available to Part D enrollees who are in the coverage gap or donut hole (they have reached or exceeded the initial coverage limit and have incurred costs below the annual out-of-pocket threshold). Medicare beneficiaries will not be eligible to receive these discount prices if they are enrolled in a qualified retiree prescription drug plan or are eligible for the low-income subsidy. The costs paid by manufacturers towards the negotiated prices of drugs covered under this manufacturer discount program shall be considered incurred costs for eligible beneficiaries and applied towards their out-of-pocket threshold. This means that the total negotiated retail drug price will be applied to the TrOOP and will count toward getting out of the doughnut hole.
Medicare Advantage 2014 Spotlight: Plan Availability and Premiums
While many organizations offer Medicare Advantage plans, a few – particularly Humana, United Healthcare, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) affiliates – have particularly large geographic spread and these organizations historically account for a disproportionate share of enrollment. In 2014, 44 percent of available plans are being offered by one of these three firms or affiliates (Table A4). Plans offered by these firms are available to most beneficiaries. Nationwide, 83 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to one or more Humana plans, 73 percent will have access to a BCBS affiliated plan (including BCBS plans offered by Wellpoint), and 68 percent will have access to a United Healthcare plan (Exhibit 5; Table A5). The general availability of these firms’ products has not noticeably changed from 2013 to 2014. However, the similarities in BCBS offerings from 2013 to 2014 obscure a decline in availability of BCBS branded Wellpoint plans (declining from 88 plans to 55 plans between 2013 and 2014), which is mostly offset by the growth in plans offered by other BCBS affiliates (growing from 205 plans to 233 plans between 2013 and 2014).
Annual Statistical Supplement, 2011
d. Standard premium rate for voluntary enrollment by certain aged and disabled individuals not otherwise entitled to Hospital Insurance (HI). (Most individuals aged 65 and older and many disabled individuals under age 65 are insured for HI benefits without payment of any premium.) Beginning in 1994, a reduced premium is available to premium-paying HI enrollees with at least 30 quarters of Medicare-covered employment (either their own or through a current or former spouse if the marriage meets certain duration criteria). In most cases, a surcharge applies for beneficiaries who enroll after their initial enrollment period.