Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) releases the expected average for privately offered Medicare insurance plans like Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Medicare Part D drug plans. These averages can help give a sense of what you may see if you’re searching for Medicare insurance plans that year. This is important because plans may adjust their costs and coverage to reflect changes in the market and the needs of their beneficiaries. Depending on a number of factors, the market may experience a drop or increase in your cost-sharing for beneficiaries.
This year, we’re seeing mixed adjustments for consumers. Let’s review what these costs may be as well as how they may affect you.
Information in this article can be found in the “Medciare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Programs to Remain Stable in 2024” and “CMS Releases 2024 Projected Medicare Part D Premium and Bid Information” press releases, in the “CMS Releases 2024 Projected Medicare Part D Premium and Bid Information” fact sheet, or in a previous year’s reporting, unless specifically linked elsewhere.
Medicare Part C
The average costs for Medicare Part C (Advantage) plans are expected to stay largely the same in 2024 compared to 2023. Average premiums for Medicare Advantage plans will rise slightly, from $17.86 to $18.50, in 2024. You can find the raw cost data by going to the CMS.gov Prescription Drug Coverage — General Information page. From there, you can download the MA (Medicare Advantage), PDP (Part D prescription drug), and SNP (Special Needs Plans) files. Once in the spreadsheet, you can navigate to your state to find available plans. You can also use a plan finder tool like Medicareful (Shop & Enroll after October 1).
CMS also announced that enrollment is projected to climb even higher than last year’s record-breaking number. A total of 31.6 million beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2023. For 2024, enrollment is expected to grow by 2.2 million people, setting a new record of 33.8 million enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans (about 50 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries)!
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D beneficiaries, as a whole, should see a slight decrease in their premiums. In 2024, the average premiums are anticipated to drop 1.8 percent from $56.49 in 2023 to $55.50. This percentage drop is actually the exact same decrease as last year. The stability of this decrease is attributed in part to the Inflation Reduction Act, according to CMS.
Other costs associated with Medicare Part D were announced earlier in the year. In 2024, the Part D deductible will increase from $505 to $545. The Initial Coverage Limit, where you enter the coverage gap, is also increasing from $4,660 in 2023 to $5,030 in 2024. Finally, the True Out-of-Pocket (TrOOP) limit will increase rom $7,400 in 2023 to $8,000 in 2024.
Part D beneficiaries will also experience updates to their coverage in 2024 through the Inflation Reduction Act. These changes include:
- Beneficiaries will no longer owe a 5 percent coinsurance for Part D-covered drugs after reaching the catastrophic coverage phase of their plans.
- Beneficiaries who earn between 135 percent and 150 percent of the federal poverty level and meet certain resource limit requirements will qualify for the Extra Help program.
What This Means for You
In some cases, you may not experience the premium drops at all. Unlike Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage and Part D are offered by private insurance companies. Individual plans are afforded a greater degree of freedom to set their own costs, making these expected premiums industry averages. That means that some plans may be higher or lower, with some plans even offering $0 premiums. It could also mean that you still see a slight increase in your Part D plan premium, even if the average went down, for example. This puts more responsibility on the consumer to stay informed about what they can expect their costs to be.
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If you’re not sure what options you have for the 2024 Medicare coverage year, it may be worthwhile meeting with a licensed insurance agent. They may be able to offer guidance and walk you through what costs you may experience in 2024. The good news is that both Medicare Advantage and Part D plans strive toward making their coverage more affordable for eligible beneficiaries.