CMS Announces Medicare Premiums for 2018

Monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage are projected to decrease by 6% in 2018.

Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced 2018 premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance for Medicare Part A and B, while also proposing a rule to lower Medicare Advantage premiums.

For 2018, the CMS said the monthly premium for Medicare Part B will be $134, the same as 2017. The CMS noted that beneficiaries who did not experience premium increases in previous years may be subject to an increase in 2018; however, these increases will be mitigated by Social Security benefit increases next year, according to the release.

“Medicare’s top priority is to ensure that beneficiaries have choices for affordable, high-quality care that fit their needs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Next year, no beneficiary protected by the hold-harmless provision will see a Part B premium increase that is greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits. We encourage Medicare beneficiaries to explore their options to make an informed choice between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage before Open Enrollment ends on December 7.”

A recent CMS report for benefits, premiums, and Star Rating information shows that beneficiaries will have increased coverage options, improved access to high-quality care, and lower premiums in 2018, according to the release.

Additionally, the average premium for Part D plans is expected to decrease $1.20 below the average for 2017 at $33.50 per month in 2018. This is the first time Part D monthly premiums were projected to decline since 2012, according to the release.

The annual deductible for Medicare Part B beneficiaries will remain stable at $183 in 2018, according to the CMS.

However, there will be an increase in Part A deductibles in 2018. The annual inpatient hospital deductible paid during admittance will be $1340 per benefit period in 2018, an increase of $24 from 2017, according to the release.

The average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage is projected to decrease approximately 6% ($1.91), from an average of $31.91 in 2017 to $30 in 2018, according to the release.

Notably, 77% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who remain in their current plan will have the same or lower premiums in 2018.

The CMS recently issued a proposed rule to increase flexibility for customized benefit designs that provide more options, reduced cost-sharing, and different cost-sharing for certain beneficiaries, according to the release. The rule also aims to increase flexibility for maximum out-of-pocket costs.

Under the proposed rule, the CMS would allow beneficiaries to receive materials electronically, improve Medicare Advantage Star Ratings, streamline government review of outreach materials, and eliminate enrollment requirements for providers, according to the release.

“This administration has been committed, from the beginning, to making sure that our seniors have more choices and lower premiums in their Medicare Advantage plans. To that end, we are adding new flexibilities that will allow seniors to choose plans that are tailor-made to their unique needs, with lower out of pocket costs,” Verma said in the release. “We have also been committed to reducing unnecessary regulations that have driven up the cost of healthcare without improving care, so we are eliminating burdensome regulations on plans and providers that have stood in the way of providing quality patient care.”