Medicare Advantage Premiums Expected to Drop Again

October 2018 ~

According to CMS, Medicare Advantage premiums are expected to decrease by 6% on average in 2019 with membership likely expanding to more than 36% of Medicare beneficiaries.

In a CMS Press Release, the agency announced that for the second year in a row, the average basic premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2019 is projected to decline predicts premiums to fall from $33.59 this year to $32.50 next year.

According to the 2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D Fact Sheet, by “unleashing and strengthening” the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, CMS will provide Medicare beneficiaries with the ease and flexibility needed to make informed healthcare choices that best fit their health needs.

CMS states that this data provides important premium and cost sharing information for Medicare health and drug plans offered in 2019:

  • Enrollment in Medicare Advantage is projected to be at an all-time high in 2019 with 22.6 million Medicare beneficiaries. This represents a projected 2.4 million (11.5%) increase from 20.2 million in 2018. Based on projected enrollment, 36.7% of Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in Medicare Advantage in 2019.
  • Medicare Advantage premiums, on average, have steadily declined since 2015 from the actual average premium of $32.91. For 2019, CMS estimates the Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will decline by $1.81 to $28.00 from 2018.
  • Approximately 83% of Medicare Advantage enrollees will have the same or lower premium in 2019 if they continue in the same plan. About 26% of enrollees staying in current plans will see their premiums decline in 2019. Approximately 46% of enrollees in their current plan will have a zero premium in 2019.
  • Access to Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans will remain nearly universal, with about 99% of Medicare beneficiaries having access to at least one health plan in their area. All Medicare beneficiaries will have access to at least one stand-alone prescription drug plan.
  • Nationally, the number of Medicare Advantage plan choices will increase from about 3,100 in 2018 to about 3,700 in 2019 – and more than 91% of people with Medicare with have access to 10 or more Medicare Advantage plans in 2019, compared to nearly 86% in 2018.
  • The average number of Medicare plan choices per county will increase by 5 plans – up to approximately 34 plan choices per county.
  • Due to new flexibilities available for the first time in 2019, nearly 270 Medicare Advantage plans will be providing an estimated 1.5 million enrollees new types of supplemental benefits:
    • Expanded health-related supplemental benefits, such as adult day care services, and in-home and caregiver support services; and
    • Reduced cost sharing and additional benefits for enrollees with certain conditions, such diabetes and congestive heart failure due to the agency’s reinterpretation of uniformity requirements.
  • Access to important supplemental benefits, such as dental, vision, and hearing continues to grow.

The average monthly premium for a basic Medicare prescription drug plan in 2019 is projected to decrease by $1.09 (3.2% decrease) to an estimated $32.50 per month. The basic premium for an average Medicare prescription drug plan is projected to decline for a second year in a row.

For more information, see the 2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D Fact Sheet, view the 2019 Medicare Health and Drug Premiums and Costs, and the 2019 Medicare Advantage and Part D State-by-State Information.



Source(s): CMS Press Release; CMS Fact Sheet; 2019 Medicare Health and Drug Plans/Prescription Drug Coverage – General Information; 2019 Medicare Advantage, Part D State-by-State Information; HealthcareDIVE;