In advance of the upcoming Medicare Fall Open Enrollment period, beginning October 15, the Biden-Harris administration announced that Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D plans for 2024 will be largely stable from 2023 offerings, with slight or no premium changes for most plans.
Standalone Part D plans are how people with original Medicare get prescription drug coverage. According to the announcement, the average Part D plan’s premium will decrease slightly, from $56.49 in 2023 to an expected $55.50 in 2024.
MA plans cover original Medicare benefits, usually bundled with a Part D plan. MA plan premiums are expected to go up slightly in 2024, from $17.86 to $18.50. The announcement also estimates that 73% of MA enrollees will not see an MA premium increase.
These stabilized prices come as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) makes additional important changes to prescription drug coverage. Already, the IRA has lowered insulin and vaccine costs, and penalizes companies for raising prices faster than inflation. Starting in 2024, there is an $8000 out-of-pocket cap for people with high Part D costs. This cap will lower to $2000 from 2025 onward.
In addition, the IRA extends eligibility for the low-income subsidy (LIS), also called “Extra Help.” LIS helps people afford prescription medications and many people are eligible but not enrolled.
The administration predicts that more people will join MA plans this year, pushing MA enrollment over 50% of all Medicare beneficiaries, and that they will have more plan choices available. At Medicare Rights, we are concerned that the rise of MA is putting Medicare’s financial footing at risk and that there are too many plans for people to tell them apart. We will continue to advocate for ways to curtail MA overpayment and to standardize plan offerings to make it easier for beneficiaries to choose the right coverage for their circumstances.
Importantly, the separate Medicare Part B premium has not been announced yet. People in both original Medicare and in MA have the Part B premium. If you cannot afford your Part B premium, you may be eligible for a Medicare Savings Program that can help cover your costs. As with LIS, many people are eligible but not enrolled.
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