Welcome to the Future: Are Updates to Medicare Coming?
There’s been a lot of talk recently about Medicare reforms and changes that always seem to be just around the corner for the United States’ government-backed health insurance program for seniors and those with certain qualifying conditions. For instance, the implementation of the medicare mbi converter tool to help with gathering information and simplifying Medicare number lookup, has been a great asset. But that is just one change that has happened.
While progressive concepts like Medicare-for-All may be further out than we realize, recent trends, including the Biden Administration’s recent push calling for Medicare drug price negotiation power and a $35 per month insulin cap, seem to indicate that at least some net positive changes are coming.
Let’s take a look at what’s been happening in Medicare for the summer of 2022.
Medicare Part B Premium Reductions Are on the Table
As recently covered by Larry Johnson of MedicareInsurance.com, the price that seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries are currently expected to pay may be trending downward sooner rather than later. This news is especially beneficial to seniors who live on a fixed income, and other Medicare beneficiaries who live from check to check.
This is welcome news, as Medicare Part B premiums actually rose quite dramatically in costs this past year as Medicare attempted to secure funding to possibly cover Aduhelm, a new medication that is said to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Being that the medication is still in testing, however, CMS has opted not to cover the drug on a broad scale at this time. In turn, this has prompted CMS officials to rethink the premium price hikes they authorized late last year.
Though this change-of-heart certainly seems to indicate that a reduction in Medicare premium costs is coming, the changes (if any) are unlikely to take effect this year. Still, optimism among beneficiaries remains high, especially as inflation continues to plague the economy and the American healthcare system.
A New Bill is Looking to Expand Health Savings Account Access to Current and Future Medicare Beneficiaries
Another bright spot on the horizon for many is the news that a new bill looks to expand the rights of Health Savings Account (HSA) holders to those who are currently enrolled in Medicare. An HSA provides a helpful nest egg for individuals who expect to encounter high costs associated with necessary healthcare treatment and services.
Current law states that one can only actively contribute to an HSA if they are enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan, such as one obtained from an employer. Currently, Medicare does not meet the definition of a high-deductible plan, and thus many beneficiaries are disappointed to learn that, once enrolled in Medicare, they can no longer add funds to their HSA.
A new bipartisan bill, known as the Health Savings for Seniors Act (H. R. 3796), is looking to resolve this discrepancy by allowing seniors to continue making contributions to their HSA or — start a new one if so desired — even if they are currently enrolled in Medicare.
U.S. Representatives, Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Jason Smith (R-MO) introduced the bill in April of 2022, claiming that allowing seniors to keep making HSA contributions would give them better access to crucial services that Original Medicare doesn’t pay for, in addition to helping seniors save around 12 percent on every medical cost paid for with funds from their HSA.
Mark Cuban’s New Online Pharmacy Concept May End Up Saving Medicare Billions of Dollars in Drug Costs
The latest and perhaps biggest story in the world of Medicare is interesting to say the least. It involves billionaire business magnate (and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks) and his existing online pharmacy system, which many claim could potentially save Medicare (and, in turn, its millions of beneficiaries) billions of dollars on prescription drug costs going forward.
The ever-increasing cost of prescription drugs is a hot button issue among Medicare recipients and the general public alike, but according to a recent report by NBC News, Medicare could have saved an estimated $4 billion in 2020 simply by purchasing generic drugs from Cuban’s Cost Plus Drug Company, an online pharmacy that offers certain generic drugs at sharply discounted prices.
Cost Plus apparently keeps prices low by selling medications at a fixed 15 percent markup plus a $3 flat fee, while avoiding brand-name pharmaceuticals that sell their medications at a much higher profit margin. The caveat to this, however, is that Cost Plus does not accept insurance, meaning patients must pay for medications out-of-pocket, albeit at a much lower price.
Still, this news highlights for the public that Medicare is overpaying drastically for many of its covered drugs, including generics and brand names alike. As a result, many are putting even more pressure on Medicare and the U.S Federal Government to change the way they approach drug cost negotiation with Big Pharma. As this story is still developing, only time will tell whether this news will have any real effect on healthcare costs going forward.
It’s always a great idea to stay up to date on Medicare and healthcare industry news, and you can do so at MedicareInsurance.com. In addition, you can learn more about your Medicare options by contacting MedicareInsurance.com’s licensed insurance agents at (800) 950-0608 today.