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Medicare Part D Prescription Drug

The New Law and Medicare Part D

Well, just as we are finishing up the annual federal and carrier Medicare Advantage and Part D certifications for 2023, the US House and Senate passed a bill (H.R. 5376 titled Inflation Reduction Act of 2022) which includes some important changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

Some of these changes take effect next year and others over the next several years. I have looked over the text, studied several analysis and have summarized below the 4 changes most likely to Medicare beneficiaries:

  1. Insulin – Effective 2023
  2. Adult Vaccines – Effective 2023
  3. Cap on Out of Pocket Drug Costs – Effective in 2024 and 2025
  4. Medicare to Negotiate Part D and Part B Drug Prices – Effective 2026

Please note: If you are receiving Part D financial assistance through state Medicaid or the Social Security Extra Help program, your benefits may already exceed what is becoming effective in this new bill. Also, if your medications are covered through your VA benefits, you may want to compare these new benefits to what VA covers and compare your options in the years ahead.

1. Insulin – Effective 2023 Beginning in 2023, for Medicare Part D beneficiaries who need insulin, monthly out-of-pocket costs will be capped at $35, and starting in 2026, the cap would be $35 or 25% of the negotiated price if that is lower. And insulin products will no longer subject to a Part D deductible.

2. Adult Vaccines – Effective 2023
Beginning in 2023, Medicare Part D cost-sharing will be eliminated for adult vaccines that are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. For most clients, the most significant change will be the new $0 Part D copay for the two shot Shingles vaccine, previously covered through Part D however frequently subject to a deductible and higher Tier copay.

3. Cap on Out of Pocket Drug Costs – Effective in 2024 and 2025
For clients with drug costs placing them in the “Coverage Gap” (aka Donut Hole) and Catastrophic Coverage Phase, this change will be very welcomed although phased in over time.

In 2024, that 5% coinsurance payment that now kicks in after someone reaches the catastrophic drug spending level in Medicare will end. As you may imagine, 5% on some of those expensive drugs that cost thousands monthly can be a lot of money. That ends in 2024.

And in 2025 your Medicare Part D out-of-pocket spending will be capped at $2,000 a year.

4. Medicare to Negotiate Part D and Part B Drug Prices
CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) will be authorized and required to negotiate maximum prices for brand-name drugs that do not have other generic equivalents and that account for the greatest Medicare spending.

There is not yet an official, publicly available list of drugs that Medicare plans to target for negotiations. However Kaiser Family Foundation reports how just a handful of drugs represent the lion’s share of Medicare drug costs. Some likely candidates, based on how much Medicare spent on them in 2020: Eliquis, Xarelto and Januvia.

Today, those brand name drugs that do not have generic equivalents and represent the greatest cost are typically listed as Tier 4 or Tier 5 specialty medications under Medicare Part D coverage.

CMS will begin by negotiating the prices of 10 drugs in 2026, 15 drugs in 2027 and 2028, and 20 drugs in 2029 and each year thereafter. The negotiations would apply first to drugs people get at the pharmacy (Part D), but in the later two years, drugs administered in doctors’ offices (Part B) could also be covered.

If you have any questions or would like for me to review with you your plan benefits please schedule a telephone or Zoom conference convenient for you and direct to my calendar, call us at (518) 346-2115 or send a note to one of our licensed and carrier certified agents closest to you:

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