HHS recently announced its expectation that Medicare Advantage premiums will fall approximately four percent in 2012, with enrollment expected to increase by 10 percent. This drop in premiums has been supported by the Affordable Care Act, which allowed CMS to prevent substantial cost increases or program cuts through elimination of co-pays and deductibles for Medicare-covered preventive services and additional discounts for Medicare beneficiaries that reach the prescription coverage “donut hole.” CMS is also offering high-quality performance incentives, including financial rewards and continuous marketing and enrollment to Five-Star Medicare Advantage and Part D plans.

The Medicare open enrollment period is also being extended an additional seven weeks, and CMS has added enhanced functionality to assist beneficiaries in making their plan choice and coverage elections for 2012. For more information on open enrollment and the various plan options, see http://www.cms.gov/center/openenrollment.asp