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Medicare Drug Premiums Expected to Dip in 2018

Projected average monthly cost for Part D plans may drop by about $1.20

Medicare Part D cost will go down

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About 43 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Part D plans.

En español | For the first time in five years, the average monthly premium for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage is expected to decrease next year.

The average basic premium is projected to decline in 2018 about $1.20 to an estimated $33.50 per month — a 3 percent savings over this year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). About 43 million adults 65 and older are enrolled in Medicare Part D plans.

The projected decline in the average premium is the result of bids that drug plans have submitted for 2018. CMS attributes these lower bids to increased pharmaceutical manufacturer rebates and other price concessions the plans are receiving.

The actual amount Part D beneficiaries will pay varies widely. Medicare recipients usually have a choice of about two dozen drug plans in their areas, and the premiums charged depend on the level of deductibles and copays — as well as the prescriptions the plans cover.

Income also affects how much Medicare beneficiaries will pay for prescriptions. Adults 65 and older whose income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines — $18,090 in 2017 — who also have only modest assets may be eligible for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy plan.

CMS expects to release actual premiums and costs for 2018 in mid-September. Medicare’s open enrollment period begins Oct. 15 and closes Dec. 7.