CMS Announces Small Increase for Part D Premiums

Officials are still concerned about the impact of rising drug costs on future premiums.

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced its Medicare Part D premiums for 2017.

Part D premiums will remain “relatively stable” at $34 per month, an increase of $1.50 from 2016, according to a press release from CMS. Although Part D spending is growing much faster than other aspects of Medicare, the stability remains.

Spending increases are largely due to high-cost specialty drugs, the effect of these costly medications on the catastrophic benefit phase. While in the catastrophic benefit phase, Medicare is responsible for 80% of the cost for drugs purchased by beneficiaries.

These projections for 2017 are based on bids submitted by drug and health plans for coverage, and were calculated by the CMS office of the actuary, according to the press release. Medicare beneficiaries will also see additional savings as the Affordable Care Act closes the Part D “donut hole,” and allows beneficiaries to compare original Medicare plans with other plans.

“Stable Medicare prescription drug plan premiums help seniors and people with disabilities afford their prescription drugs,” said Andy Slavitt, acting CMS administrator. “However, I remain increasingly concerned about the rising cost of drugs, especially high-cost specialty drugs, and the impact of these costs on the Medicare program.”