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10 Things to Know About Medicare Part D Coverage and Costs in 2019

The Medicare Part D program provides an outpatient prescription drug benefit to older adults and people with long-term disabilities in Medicare who enroll in private plans. This analysis provides the latest data about Medicare Part D coverage and costs in 2019 and trends over time, including enrollment, premiums, cost sharing, and participation in the low-income subsidy program.

Do People Who Sign Up for Medicare Advantage Plans Have Lower Medicare Spending?

The analysis finds that people who switched from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage in 2016 had health spending in 2015 that was $1,253 less, on average, than the average spending for beneficiaries who remained in traditional Medicare (after adjusting for health risk). The findings suggest that the current payment method may systematically overestimate expected costs of Medicare Advantage enrollees. Adjusting payments to reflect Medicare Advantage enrollees’ prior use of health services could potentially lower total Medicare spending by billions of dollars over a decade.

An Overview of Medicare

This issue brief provides an overview of Medicare, the health insurance program for people ages 65 and over and younger people with long-term disabilities. The brief review the characteristics of people on Medicare, what Medicare covers, benefit gaps and supplemental coverage, beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket health care spending, program spending and financing, payment and delivery system reform, and issues for the future of Medicare.

The Out-of-Pocket Cost Burden for Specialty Drugs in Medicare Part D in 2019

Medicare Part D has helped to make prescription drugs more affordable for people with Medicare, yet many beneficiaries continue to face high out-of-pocket costs for their medications. Specialty tier drugs are a particular concern for Part D enrollees in this context. This analysis draws on data from Medicare’s Plan Finder website to calculate expected annual 2019 out-of-pocket costs for 30 specialty tier drugs used to treat four health conditions—cancer, hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Medicare Part D Enrollees with Serious Health Conditions Can Face Thousands of Dollars in Out-of-Pocket Costs Annually for Specialty Drugs

Despite Medicare’s protections, Part D enrollees with serious health conditions can face thousands of dollars in annual out-of-pocket costs for expensive specialty drugs, a new KFF anaylsis finds. The analysis draws on data from Medicare’s Plan Finder website to calculate expected annual 2019 costs for more than two dozen specialty tier…

Initiative 18|11: What Can We Do About The Cost Of Health Care?

This conference report summarizes discussions at a March 2018 conference in Washington with 30 leaders from the health care community to launch Initiative 18/11, a partnership between the Society of Actuaries and KFF to address the rising cost of health care in the United States. It also lays out the next steps for the initiative.

New England Journal of Medicine: Medicare Advantage Checkup

In this November 2018 New England Journal of Medicine article, KFF’s Tricia Neuman and Gretchen Jacobson examine the extent to which Medicare Advantage plans are achieving goals with respect to benefits, out-of-pocket costs, plan choice, federal spending and quality.