Medicare Advantage premiums to decline slightly in 2022, Part D to rise by nearly 5%

Average Medicare Advantage plan premiums are expected to hit $19 per month next year, a slight decline from the $21.22 in 2021.

But Medicare Part D plan premiums will continue to increase by nearly 5% to $33 next year compared to the current premium of $31.47, new federal data show.

The premium data, released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), also come with a projection that MA enrollment will reach 29.5 million next year, compared to 26.9 million in 2021. Open enrollment for MA and Part D plans starts on Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.

“Open enrollment is the one time each year when more than 63 million people with Medicare can review their healthcare coverage to find new plans or change existing plans, discover extra benefits and help them save money,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement Wednesday.

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CMS said the average Part D premium’s nearly 5% hike is based on “plans’ expectations of per capita drug spending in the coming year.”

More MA plans are expected to offer supplemental benefits for the chronically ill this year, with 25% of plans offering such benefits compared to 19% last year.

CMS also saw an increase in the number of dual-eligible special needs plans, which aim to better coordinate care for people on both Medicare and Medicaid.

“In 2022, 295 plans (compared to 256 in 2021), will cover all Medicare services, plus Medicaid-covered behavioral health treatment or long-term services and supports, through a single organization,” CMS said.

There are more than 500 new MA and Part D plans joining the Part D Senior Savings Model, which is exploring ways to offer insulin at no more than $35 each.

CMS’ projection that nearly 30 million people will sign up for MA next year comes amid other projections of major growth in the program. A report released in May by advocacy group Better Medicare Alliance estimates that enrollment is expected to increase to 50% of all Medicare beneficiaries by the end of the decade.