Medi­care ex­pects dip in Rx pre­mi­ums

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion said the av­er­age monthly pre­mium for Medi­care pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age is ex­pected to go down in 2018, the first time that’s hap­pened in five years.

Medi­care an­nounced Wed­nes­day that next year’s av­er­age pre­mium is ex­pected to be $33.50 per month, about $1.20 less than this year, or a 3 per­cent dip. Some 43 mil­lion se­nior cit­i­zens have Medi­care Part D pre­scrip­tion cov­er­age.

The av­er­age is just that, a bench­mark num­ber that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­flect what in­di­vid­ual con­sumers will ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a yard­stick the govern­ment uses to mea­sure trends.

The con­sult­ing firm Avalere Health says the de­cline is driven by lower ex­pected costs for most ben­e­fi­cia­ries, and slightly lower costs for those with very high pre­scrip­tion drug spend­ing. Ris­ing spend­ing on high-cost drugs had driven re­cent pre­mium in­creases.

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