Those of us who get Medicare (and if it’s not already, one day that will be you too!) have just had to bear the largest single premium increase in dollars in any year for 2022, an increase of $23.00 a month. While it is true that we all also saw an increase in our total benefits (due to the high inflation adjustments of 5.9%), this Medicare premium increase puts a huge dent in that amount we get. But there just might be some good news coming down the pike when it comes to the Medicare increased costs.
Seniors and other recipients could see a cut in their monthly Medicare Part B premiums for 2022 after a controversial new drug’s price was just slashed. That good news makes Medicare of particular interest here at Super Saving Tips!
Medicare Is Quite “Sick”
We have all heard about the trouble with keeping Medicare and Social Security afloat with increasing costs and more and more users as the Baby Boomers are right in the middle of the retirement flood that is hitting the USA. Experts agree that because of that situation and other factors, sometime in the early 2030’s, benefits will have to be reduced for the first time ever if something isn’t done to fix it.
Frankly, that’s been talked about up, down, and sideways for 40 years and nothing has been done so far to fix anything!
Here’s What Happened in 2021
In November 2021, Medicare set the monthly Part B premium at $170.10 for this year, a more than 14% increase from 2021. The agency said the increase was due in part to Medicare beneficiaries potentially being prescribed Aduhelm (aducanumab), an Alzheimer’s treatment manufactured by Biogen that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year. Since the drug must be administered intravenously by infusion, it is covered under Part B. Initially, this drug would cost its users $56,000 each year per patient.
Whether or not you will ever need or use such a drug like this one, all Medicare users share in the cost of all of these wonder drugs and this one in particular had an astronomical cost!
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimated in June that if just a quarter of the 2 million Medicare beneficiaries who were prescribed an Alzheimer’s treatment under Part D in 2017 took Aduhelm, it would cost Medicare $29 billion in just one year. Overall, Medicare spent $37 billion on all Part B drugs in 2019, according to the KFF. Aduhelm would almost double the total costs for Medicare recipients to get the drug in 2022.
That situation forced Medicare to increase premiums to a record number so that it would be able to cover the users of Aduhelm.
Now There Is Some Good News
Biogen, the maker of Aduhelm, just announced the price of the drug will be reduced to $28,200 annually for its users (not counting expenses for brain scans and other care patients will need while taking it). Biogen has cut that cost after taking months and months of criticism over the expense.
Health & Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra this past Monday issued a press release that he had asked Medicare to “reassess the recommendation for the 2022 Medicare Part B premium, given the dramatic price change of the Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. With the 50% price drop of Aduhelm on January 1, there is a compelling basis for CMS (Medicare) to reexamine the previous recommendation,” he added.
That action means that recipients could see a reduction of up to $10.00-$12.00 per month on their Medicare premium and even a credit for any deductions already made in 2022.
What Is Aduhelm?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved Aduhelm last June and later said it was appropriate for patients with mild symptoms or early-stage Alzheimer’s.
Aduhelm clears brain plaque thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, and regulators made their call based on research showing the drug seemed likely to benefit patients. But they’ve asked for another study.
There Is a Warning If You Need Aduhelm
Besides the hefty price tag, experts have also raised concerns about the effectiveness and potential side effects of Aduhelm, leading Medicare to complete a national coverage determination to decide whether to pay for the treatment.
Medicare issued a proposal that it would only cover the treatment for certain patients in clinical trials. Additionally, Medicare would limit coverage to patients who have the protein in their brain that Aduhelm is designed to target and have mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia.
Please note: The restrictions outlined in the proposal would likely limit the number of Medicare beneficiaries who can access the drug. The proposal, which can still be changed, is expected to be finalized later this year.
Medicare’s national coverage determination will become final by April 11th, following a public comment period and further evaluation by the agency.
It’s very important to understand how Medicare can affect you when you are older, disabled, or retired and need medical aid. The cost of medical drugs and treatments keeps rising every year and then there is the cost of insurance, too. Someone has to pay for each new medicine and all the research that goes into it.
The system is “sick” as I said earlier and unless you are in unusually good health yourself, you will have to deal with this money-draining and yes, life-draining issue. This is why it is so important to try to be healthy and prepare financially for old age and retirement with a good plan.
If you don’t prepare properly, you may not be able to afford any or all of the medical help you need and you can just imagine what that will mean to you and your loved ones.
What stage of life are you in right now and how is your health? Will a reduction in the Medicare premium mean something to you or your family? Are you able to pay for the healthcare you currently need for you and your family?