What’s New in Medicare Advantage and Part D

With Medicare Advantage playing an increasingly larger role in Medicare, the average person on Medicare will be able to choose among 24 plans during the annual Medicare open enrollment period that began Oct. 15, finds a new analysis from KFF (the Kaiser Family Foundation).

The new analysis, Medicare Advantage Plans in 2019: First Look, finds that:

  • Nationally, 2,734 Medicare Advantage plans for general enrollment will be offered in 2019 -- more than in any year since 2009.

  • Fourteen new insurers will be entering the Medicare Advantage market for the first time in 2019, and five will be exiting. More than 200 insurers will offer Medicare Advantage plans in 2019.

  • Medicare Advantage enrollment now exceeds 20 million beneficiaries and has more than doubled in the last decade. The plans, mainly HMOs and PPOs offered by private insurers, are an alternative to traditional Medicare.

A second analysis, Medicare Part D: A First Look at Prescription Drug Plans in 2019, finds that the average beneficiary will be able to choose among 27 stand-alone Part D plans in 2019, up from 23 in 2018 but well below the peak of 56 plans in 2007. A total of 901 drug plans will be offered next year, the second year in a row with greater plan availability.

Other key findings include:

  • Current stand-alone drug plan enrollees are projected to see a modest two percent increase in monthly premiums if they remain in their current plan for 2019, with an average premium of $41.21 per month, up from $40.57 this year. Among the 10 stand-alone drug plans with the most enrollees, average premiums will range from a low of $28 per month for Humana Walmart to a high of $76 per month for Humana Enhanced.

  • Most Part D enrollees will face modest cost-sharing amounts for generic drugs in 2019 but much higher cost sharing for brands and non-preferred drugs. For example, among the 10 largest stand-alone Part D plans, copayments range from $0 to $5 for preferred generics but a coinsurance rate of up to 50 percent for non-preferred drugs.

Also available from KFF is our updated Medicare Part D fact sheet.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

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