As insurance premiums in other sectors of the health care industry continue to soar, seniors enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan will see a slight decrease in the average premium for their drug coverage.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Aug. 2 that the average basic premium for drug coverage is projected to drop to $33.50 per month in 2018, down $1.20 from 2017’s average monthly premium of $34.70.

While drug spending is projected to increase in 2018, Part D insurance providers are expecting their drug costs to fall, according to a CMS spokesperson, noting that manufacturer rebates and other price concessions are projected to grow faster than plan sponsors’ drug costs, driving bids down and offsetting the basic premium increase.

Average premiums are falling despite the rise in drug spending, according to the 2017 Medicare Trustees report , which details the solvency of the Medicare program.

The report notes, however, that drug costs are lower than previous reports due to higher manufacturer rebates and decreased use of direct acting antiviral therapies for hepatitis C virus. Overall, Medicare Part D expenditures per enrollee are estimated to increase by an average of 4.7% annually from 2017 through 2026.

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

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