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Medicare Advantage premiums remain stable in 2017, CMS says

Average premiums in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will remain steady at an estimated $34 per month.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium will decrease by 3.6 percent next year, from $32.59 in 2016 to $31.40, a difference of  $1.19, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

In addition, average premiums in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will remain stable, CMS said. The average basic premium for a Medicare prescription drug plan in 2017 is projected to be $34 per month.

Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act through July 2016, more than 11 million seniors and people with disabilities have received savings and discounts in the coverage gap of over $23.5 billion on prescription drugs, an average of $2,127 per beneficiary, CMS said.

[Also: Medicare Advantage attracting healthcare providers looking to run their own plans]

The ACA has allowed Medicare enrollees to see reduced costs through both savings on covered brand-name and generic drugs and to have access to certain preventive services that have no cost sharing, according to CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.

"Medicare Advantage and the prescription drug benefit continue to be a great option for seniors and people living with disabilities," Slavitt said. "Medicare enrollees will continue to have access to predictable premiums and high quality care."

The premium cost for Medicare Advantage in 2017 is 13 percent lower than the average Medicare Advantage premium prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, CMS said.

An estimated two-thirds, or 67 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees will experience no premium increase.

In 2017, 32 percent of all Medicare enrollees will be in a Medicare Advantage plan compared to only 24 percent in 2010.

[Also: Medicare Advantage consumers loyal to MA, but not to insurer, study finds]

For the seventh straight year, MA enrollment is projected to increase to a new all-time high to 18.5 million enrollees in 2017, a 60 percent increase from 2010. 

In 2017, more Medicare Advantage plans will offer more supplemental benefits for enrollees, such as dental, vision, and hearing benefits, CMS said.

Open enrollment for 2017 Medicare health and drug plans begins on October 15 and ends on December 7.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse