In a press release issued last Monday, HHS predicted that premiums paid by Medicare beneficiaries for Medicare's Part D prescription drug benefit in 2013 will remain level with last year’s premiums, at about $30 per month. This is the third consecutive year that premiums for the drug benefit have not changed. The estimate, which is based on bids submitted by drug companies and health plans for basic coverage, comes on the heels of a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that slowly begins to close the so-called “donut hole” in Part D coverage by providing a discount on drug prices for people who enter the gap in Medicare’s drug coverage. This year, for example, Medicare beneficiaries received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs, and 14 percent coverage of generic drugs, in the donut hole. According to the press release, CMS previously announced that more than 5.2 million people with Medicare have saved over $3.9 billion on prescription drugs in the Medicare Part D donut hole since the ACA was enacted. Had Part D premiums increased, however, it would have drawn into question the true monetary benefit to beneficiaries of closing the Part D donut hole. The HHS press release is available here.
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HHS: Part D premiums steady while donut hole shrinks
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