Augusta Free Press

Medicare Part B and prescription drug premiums for Virginians are $20.4 million lower than predicted for 2015

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell announced today that next year’s standard Medicare Part B monthly premium and deductible will remain the same as the last two years.  This leaves more of seniors’ cost of living adjustment from Social Security in their pockets.

For the approximately 1,120,925 Virginians enrolled in Medicare Part B, premiums and deductibles will remain unchanged in 2015 at $104.90 and $147 respectively.  CMS also recently announced that the average premium for people enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is estimated to increase modestly to $32 per month.  According to the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, as compared to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections for 2015 made in 2009, premiums will be more than $125 lower over the course of a year. Taken together, this means that total Medicare Part B and D premiums for seniors and people with disabilities in Virginia are approximately $20.4 million lower than predicted for 2015.

“Thanks to slower health care cost growth within Medicare since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, next year’s Medicare Part B monthly premium will remain unchanged for the second consecutive year,” said Secretary Burwell. “The Affordable Care Act is working to improve affordability and access to quality care for seniors and people with disabilities.”

“The stabilization of Part B premiums is another example of how we are containing health care costs to provide a more sustainable and affordable health delivery system. The Administration has taken important steps to improve the quality of care while keeping the cost of Medicare premiums and deductibles the same,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “This means even greater financial and health security for our seniors next year as their premiums will remain unchanged.”

Nationwide there are approximately 49 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Part B, which covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.

CMS also announced today that for the small number of beneficiaries who pay Medicare Part A monthly premiums, their monthly bill will drop $19 in 2015 to $407.  Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home health care services.  Although about 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries do not pay a Part A premium since they have at least 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment, enrollees age 65 and over and certain persons with disabilities who have fewer than 30 quarters of coverage pay a monthly premium in order to receive coverage under Part A.   Beneficiaries who have between 30 and 39 quarters of coverage may buy into Part A at a reduced monthly premium rate which is $224 for 2015, a decrease of $10 from 2014.

The Affordable Care Act closes the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, knows as the “donut hole” over time. Beginning with the passage of the Affordable Care Act through June 2014, people with Medicare in Virginia have saved $264,585,641 on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act.  Nationwide, more than 8.3 million people with Medicare have saved over $12 billion on prescription drugs through July 2014, an average of $1,443 per beneficiary.

States have programs that pay some or all of beneficiaries’ premiums and coinsurance for certain people who have Medicare and a limited income. Information is available at 1-800-medicare (1-800-633-4227) and, for hearing and speech impaired, at TTY/TDD: 1-877-486-2048.



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