NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Which Medicare Drug Plans to Be Less Costly in 2015?

September 29, 2014

Monthly premiums for stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans will likely fall next year as a number of sponsors consolidate offerings into lower-cost plans, according to a study released Monday by Avalere Health.

  • After analyzing data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the health care advisory firm estimated that average premiums would fall by 2% to $38.95, from $39.88 in 2014.
  • As premiums decline, Avalere warns, Medicare Part D sponsors "may be shifting more cost-sharing responsibilities to beneficiaries." For example, the proportion of prescription drug plans with zero deductibles in 2015 will drop to 42% from 47% in 2014.
  • In addition, Part D sponsors "continue to move away" from offering coverage in the drug-coverage gap, or donut hole, as the Affordable Care Act gradually closes the gap. Some 74% of such plans will not offer coverage of drugs in the gap next year, Avalere said.

Avalere noted a wide variance among the top plans. For example:

  • A consolidated plan from Aetna called Aetna Medicare Rx Saver, will reduce premiums by 31% to $24.46, while WellCare Health's Classic plan will go up by 52% to $31.46.
  • The two most expensive plans are Humana Enhanced at $52.81, up 11% from 2014, and the AARP MedicareRx Preferred from UnitedHealth at $50.15, up 16% over 2014, Avalere said. The latter plan is also the largest by number of enrollments, at nearly 3.8 million.
  • Humana also has among two of the lowest-priced 2015 plans: the Humana Preferred Rx Plan at $26.40 and Humana's Wal-Mart Rx Plan at $15.67.

As for Medicare Advantage plans, Avalere found that the number of those plans will drop 3% amid continued government reimbursement cutbacks.

Source: Marilyn Alva, "Which Medicare Drug Plans To Be Less Costly In 2015?" Investor's Business Daily, September 22, 2014.


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