Posted on 21 February 2013
By Mark Miller
There will be good and bad news next year for seniors using Medicare’s prescription drug program.
Overall, enrollees can expect a year of flat or decreasing Medicare prescription drug costs, according to data released last week by the federal government. The government said Medicare’s per-beneficiary drug costs fell 4 percent last year. As a result, some of the most important numbers in the program’s 2014 Part D will drop by roughly the same amounts.
The number that will matter most to seniors is the standard annual plan deductible. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicare, said last week that it will be $310, down from $325 this year (the numbers are proposed, and still could be revised). And insurance plan premiums – which won’t be known until this fall – could reflect the decline in drug prices.
The wrinkle in the outlook is that because of the lower prices, for the first time in the Part D program’s history, beneficiaries will enter the infamous “donut hole” more quickly than before. And that will likely cause confusion and consternation among the 19 percent of seniors affected by it. Learn more in my column today at Reuters Money.