The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced this week that Part C premiums will decrease by $0.31 in 2016. The average plan drops from $32.91 in 2015 to $32.60 next year. The health agency claims that approximately 59% of all current enrollees will not experience n increase in their premiums.
“Seniors and people with disabilities continue to experience stable premiums in Medicare health and drug plans,” said Sean Cavanaugh, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare. “Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans remain affordable and provide high quality care.”
This is a significant change for CMS, which has previously announced increased and then reversed rate hikes.
CMS says that access to Medicare Advantage plans continues to be good, with approximately 99% of all Medicare beneficiaries having access to plans. Beneficiaries in some rural areas are the exception.
CMS also announced that more 2016 plans offer supplemental benefits for enrollees that previous year plans. Unlike Medicare Supplements, which are in lock-step with Medicare coverage, Medicare Advantage can offer additional services, such as including dental, vision and hearing benefits.
It is projected that as many as 17.4 million beneficiaries will enroll on a private health plan, representing approximately 32% of the Medicare population.
The Medicare annual election period (AEP), also called “Open Enrollment” starts October 15, 2015, and ends December 7, 2015. New plan information will be available in the first week of October.