Medicare prescription drug plan premiums to rise slightly in 2021

Seniors will pay slightly higher premiums for Medicare prescription drug plans in 2021, CMS said on Wednesday.

The average basic Part D premium will be $30.50 next year, up from $30 in 2020. Premiums for Part D plans have fallen about 12% since 2017, which translates to $1.9 billion in premium savings, the agency said.

“At every turn, the Trump administration has prioritized policies that introduce choice and competition in Part D,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

Verma also touted a new insulin model taking effect in 2021. Under the voluntary model, more than 1,600 standalone Part D plans and Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage signed on to offer beneficiaries insulin at a maximum copayment of $35 for a month’s supply. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Part D insulin users not receiving low-income subsidies would save about $160 under the model.

Also beginning next year, CMS said Part D plans must include information on drug price increases and lower-cost therapeutic alternatives in the plans’ explanation of benefits. Plans will also be required to provide a real-time benefit tool to clinicians so they can discuss out-of-pocket drug costs with patients, the agency said.

The upcoming annual Medicare open enrollment period for 2021 runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.

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