CMS Makes Medicare Part D Open Season Announcement

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided details on 2007 Medicare Part D plan options today. Medicare Part D is Medicare’s prescription drug coverage program with coverage offered to Medicare eligible beneficiaries by regional prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage Plans with prescription drug coverage. The open enrollment period begins November 15. (Medicare Part D intentionally is structured similar to the FEHB Program.)

CMS announced that

The monthly premium beneficiaries will pay in 2007 will average $24 if they stay in their current plan — about the same as in 2006. While some people will see an increase in their current plan premiums, they have the option to switch plans. Nationally, 83 percent of beneficiaries will have access to plans with premiums lower than they are paying this year, and beneficiaries will also have access to plans with premiums of less than $20 a month. Beneficiaries will have more plan options that offer enhanced coverage, including zero deductibles and coverage in the gap for both generics and preferred brand name drugs. Plans are adding drugs to their formularies. Nationwide the average number of drugs included on a plan formulary will increase by approximately 13 percent, and plans will also use utilization management tools at a lower rate.

CMS also noted that “In addition to prescription drug plans, Medicare beneficiaries in 39 states will have access to the first Medical Savings Account plans and related consumer-directed plans ever available in Medicare.” Of course, 2007 will only be the second year of operation for Medicare Part D, which was created by the Medicare Modernixation Act of 2003.