AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
En español | Monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are expected to drop by an average of $3.87 to an estimated $23 in 2020 — a 14 percent decrease, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) announced on Tuesday. About one-third of Medicare's 60 million beneficiaries belong to these private insurance plans.
Open enrollment for all Medicare enrollees begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7.
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is a private insurance alternative to original Medicare. These plans include Medicare Part A, which covers hospital care, hospice, and some nursing home and rehabilitative services, and Part B, which helps pay for doctor visits and other outpatient services, including lab tests, scans and other diagnostic services. Most MA plans also include prescription drug coverage.
Getting ready to enroll in Medicare? Visit our Medicare Made Easy guide
The premiums announced Tuesday represent a nationwide average. Actual monthly charges for MA plans will vary depending on what the plan covers and where beneficiaries live. CMS announced this year that premiums for Part D prescription drug coverage were also trending down by about 13.5 percent to a projected $30 a month. CMS has not yet set the premiums for Part B or the deductibles for parts A and B.
Many Medicare Advantage plans also cover some dental, vision and hearing care. In addition, over the past two years CMS has added other benefits designed to improve the health of older Americans. These services include in-home meals, transportation, adult day care services, and improvements to beneficiaries’ homes, including wheelchair ramps and shower grips. Not every Medicare Advantage plan provides these extra benefits. CMS projects that about 250 plans in 2020 will offer access to these supplemental services, affecting an estimated 1.2 million enrollees.
Enrollment in MA plans has been steadily increasing. CMS projects that more than 24 million people will be in an MA plan in 2020. The agency also estimates that 1,200 more MA plans will be available in 2020 than were being sold in 2018.