| The average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage plans is expected to decline by about $1.81 to an estimated $28 in 2019 — a 6 percent decrease, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Open enrollment for Medicare’s 60 million beneficiaries begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.
CMS estimates that nearly 83 percent of Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees can expect to have the same premium or a lower one in 2019 if they stay in their current plan. CMS also says that about 46 percent of enrollees who stay in their current plan will have no MA premium. The average 2019 monthly MA premium will be the lowest in three years.
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MA plans are a private insurance alternative to original Medicare. These plans cover both Medicare Part A, which includes hospital, some nursing home and rehabilitation services, and Part B, which covers doctor visits, diagnostic services and outpatient care. Most MA plans include prescription drug coverage, and some also offer supplemental benefits such as dental, vision or hearing. MA enrollees must pay the monthly Part B premium as well as any MA monthly fee. In 2018, the Part B premium is $134. CMS has not yet announced the Part B premium for 2019.
CMS also projects that enrollment in MA plans will reach an all-time high of 22.6 million beneficiaries. Federal officials also say that 3,700 MA plans will be available across the country in 2019, an increase of 600 plans. More than 91 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will have the choice of 10 or more MA plans.
An estimated 1.5 million MA enrollees in 270 plans will have access to new supplemental benefits in 2019, CMS officials say. These benefits include adult day care services, in-home support services, caregiver support services, home-based palliative care and therapeutic massage.