Ahead of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under the leadership of President Trump, announced today that average 2021 premiums for Medicare Advantage plans are expected to decline 34.2 percent from 2017 while plan choice, benefits, and enrollment continue to increase. The Medicare Advantage average monthly premium will be the lowest in 14 years (since 2007) for the over 26 million Medicare beneficiaries projected to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for 2021. Additionally, for the first time, seniors who use insulin will have over 1,600 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans to choose from that will offer insulin at no more than a $35 monthly copay beginning in January.
This news comes as the agency releases the benefit and cost-sharing information for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans for the 2021 calendar year. Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that cover all Medicare benefits plus provide additional benefits, while Part D plans are private health plans that provide prescription drug coverage for seniors. Specific highlights include:
- The Medicare Advantage average monthly plan premium is expected to decrease 11 percent to $21.00(estimated) in 2021 from an average of $23.63 in 2020. Since 2017, the average monthly Medicare Advantage premium has decreased by an estimated 34.2 percent. This is the lowest that the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan has been since 2007. In some states including Alabama, Nevada, Michigan, and Kentucky, beneficiaries will see average premium decreases of over 50 percent since 2017. The trend of lower Medicare Advantage premiums means that beneficiaries have saved nearly $1.5 billion in premium costs since 2017.
- Beneficiaries will have more plan choices, with about 2,100 more Medicare Advantage plans operating in 2021 than in 2017, a 76.6 percent increase. Overall, beneficiaries can choose from more than 4,800 Medicare Advantage plans during 2021 open enrollment.
- The average number of Medicare Advantage plan choices per county will increase from about 39 plans in 2020 to 47 plans in 2021. This represents an increase of 78.5 percent since 2017. The number of plan options in rural counties has increased to 2,900 in 2021 from about 2,450 in 2020 (about an 18 percent increase), as a result of flexibilities we gave to plans on benefit coverage and building their provider networks.
- Medicare Advantage continues to be popular, with enrollment projected to increase to an all-time high of 26.9 million beneficiaries from current enrollment of 24.4 million. The projected enrollment for 2021 represents a 44 percent increase in Medicare Advantage enrollment since 2017. About 42 percent of beneficiaries are expected to be enrolled in Medicare Advantage for 2021. Starting in 2021, beneficiaries with End Stage Renal Disease will now have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, giving them more affordable Medicare coverage choices.
- As previously announced, the average basic Part D premium will be approximately $30.50 in 2021. The trend of lower Part D premiums, which have decreased by 12 percent since 2017, means that beneficiaries have saved nearly $1.9 billion in premium costs over that time. Further, Part D continues to be an extremely popular program, with enrollment increasing by 16.7 percent since 2017.
- Since 2017, beneficiaries have saved approximately $3.4 billion in combined Medicare Advantage and Part D premium costs.
You can read more from CMS here.