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2021 CMS Press release: 2022 Medicare Advantage plan premiums decline while plans continue offering a wide range of coverage benefits

Category: Annual Medicare Plan Changes
Published: Sep, 29 2021 03:09:39

On September 29, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the release of the 2022 Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plan data and provided some highlights of the plan landscape.
  • Average Medicare Advantage plan premiums continue to decline to $19 per month as compared to $21.22 in 2021.

  • Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans is projected to increase to 29.5 million people in 2022 from the 26.9 million people currently enrolled in a 2021 Medicare Advantage plan (as compared to 24.4 million in 2020).

  • However, as noted in an earlier Press Release, CMS is expecting average Medicare Part D premiums to increase 4.9% in 2022 to $33 per month from the 2021 average premium of $31.47 (considering stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) and Medicare Advantage plans that offer drug coverage (MAPDs) together).

  • 2022 Medicare Advantage plans will continue offering a wide range of health and non-health related coverage benefits.  In some areas of the country, Medicare Advantage plans will be available offering coverage for: "eyewear, hearing aids, both preventive and comprehensive dental benefits, access to meals (for a limited duration), over-the-counter items, fitness benefits and worldwide emergency/urgent coverage."

  • CMS specifically noted that a larger number of 2022 Medicare Part D (PDP) and Medicare Advantage (MAPD) plans would now provide coverage of Insulin for a $35-or-less co-payment throughout most phases of the drug plan.  In 2022, more than 2,100 Medicare Part D plans will participate in the Senior Savings Model as compared to around 1,600 drug plans in 2021.

  • The CMS Press Released also highlighted an increase in the number of 2022 Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs) specifically designed for people dual-eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (also called D-SNPs).  In 2022, 295 D-SNPs will be offered as compared to 256 D-SNPs offered in 2021.

  • As a note, in last-years 2020 Press Release, CMS emphasized the expansion of "telehealth" or telemedicine benefits being offered by 2021 Medicare Advantage plans, but this year CMS did not bring attention to this program - possibly because telemedicine has become so necessarily popular during the COVID-19 pandemic that telemedicine programs are already widely-known.
The following is the complete text of the CMS Press Release published on September 29, 2021 (with highlighting, formatting, and emphasis added).  The press release can be found at: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-releases- 2022-premiums-and-cost-sharing-information- medicare-advantage-and-prescription-drug:

CMS Releases 2022 Premiums and Cost-Sharing Information for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2022 premiums, deductibles and other key information for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans in advance of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment to help Medicare enrollees decide on coverage that fits their needs. The average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month, compared to $21.22 in 2021, while projected enrollment continues to increase. As previously announced, the average 2022 premium for Part D coverage will be $33 per month, compared to $31.47 in 2021.

“We are committed to ensuring that the health system and Medicare work for people, their families and their providers,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Open Enrollment is the one time each year when more than 63 million people with Medicare can review their health care coverage to find new plans or change existing plans, discover extra benefits and help them save money.”

Enrollment in Medicare Advantage in 2022 is projected to reach 29.5 million people compared to 26.9 million enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2021. Medicare Advantage plans will continue to offer a wide range of supplemental benefits in 2022, including eyewear, hearing aids, both preventive and comprehensive dental benefits, access to meals (for a limited duration), over-the-counter items, fitness benefits and worldwide emergency/urgent coverage. In addition, the percentage of plans offering special supplemental benefits for chronically ill individuals will increase from 19% to 25%.

An increasing number of Medicare Advantage dual eligible special needs plans [D-SNPs] cover both Medicare and Medicaid services for people who are dually eligible. 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 will continue to test the Part D Senior Savings Model in more than 2,100 plans in 2022, increasing access and affordability to select insulins for seniors. Over 500 new Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans, and two new pharmaceutical manufacturers of insulin, are joining the model this year to provide even more opportunities for eligible seniors to reduce their out-of-pocket spending on insulin.

Additionally, more than 1,000 Medicare Advantage plans will participate in the CMS Innovation Center’s Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model in 2022, which tests the effect of offering a projected 3.7 million people customized benefits that are designed to better manage their disease(s) and meet a wide range of social needs, from food insecurity to social isolation. The VBID Model’s Hospice Benefit Component, now in its second year, will also be offered by 115 Medicare Advantage plans in portions of 22 states and U.S. territories and provides enrollees increased access to palliative and integrated hospice care.

Medicare Open Enrollment begins on October 15, 2021, and ends on December 7, 2021. During this time, people eligible for Medicare can compare 2022 coverage options between Original Medicare, and Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. Medicare health and drug plan costs and covered benefits can change from year to year, so people with Medicare should look at their coverage choices annually and decide on the options that best meet their health needs.

Medicare.gov provides clear, easy-to-use information as well as an updated Medicare Plan Finder to allow people with Medicare to compare their personalized options for health and drug coverage. CMS will update the Medicare Plan Finder with the 2022 Medicare health and prescription drug plan information on October 1, 2021. 1-800-MEDICARE is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide help in English and Spanish as well as language support in over 200 languages. In addition, Medicare enrollees can contact their State Health Insurance Programs [SHIP] (https://www.shiphelp.org/) for one-on-one assistance. People who want to keep their current Medicare coverage do not need to re-enroll.

To help with their Medicare costs, low-income seniors and adults with disabilities may qualify to receive financial assistance from the Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs). The MSPs are essential to help millions of Americans access high-quality health care at a reduced cost, yet only about half of eligible people are enrolled. The MSPs help pay Medicare premiums and may also pay Original Medicare deductibles, coinsurance and copayments if people meet the conditions of eligibility. Enrolling in an MSP offers relief from these Medicare costs, allowing people to spend that money on food, housing or transportation. Seniors interested in learning more can visit: https://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/get-help-paying-costs/medicare-savings-programs.

To view a news alert on the projected 2022 Medicare Part D average premium, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/ newsroom/news-alert/cms-releases-2022- projected-medicare-part-d-average-premium

To view the premiums and costs of 2022 Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/ medicare/prescription-drug-coverage /prescriptiondrugcovgenin. Select the various 2022 landscape source files in the downloads section of the webpage.

For state-by-state information on Medicare Advantage and Part D in 2022, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/files/ document/92921-state-state-fact-sheets-2022- medicare-advantage-and-part-d-landscape-final.pdf.  

For more information on the Part D Senior Savings Model, including plan participation for 2022, please visit: https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/part-d-savings-model.

For more information on the Medicare Advantage Value Based Insurance Design Model, including plan participation, please visit: https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/vbid.


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