The Inflation Reduction Act has lots of parts that help make prescription drugs more affordable, including closing the “Medicare donut hole” and changing how much money you have to pay when getting your prescriptions through the Medicare Part D drug benefit. “By 2025, Part D will expand its coverage to include more prescription drugs than today, reducing your out-of-pocket expenses.”
So if you’re on Medicare or know someone who is, now you know a bit more about how the Inflation Reduction Act helps people save money when it comes to prescriptions – including closing the dreaded “Medicare donut hole” and making sure there’s coverage with Medicare Part D. This way, people on Medicare can get the medicines they need without breaking the bank. So if you’re dealing with the “Medicare donut hole” or using Medicare Part D, now you know a bit more about how the Inflation Reduction Act can help.
Part 1: Overview of the Medicare Part D Benefit in 2023
To comprehend the changes, let’s first understand how the Medicare Part D benefit works. The benefit has four distinct phases, determining the share of drug costs paid by Part D enrollees, Part D plans, drug manufacturers, and Medicare. Here’s a breakdown of each phase:
1. Deductible Phase: Enrollees pay 100% of their drug costs, up to $505 in 2023. Some plans don’t charge a deductible, but most stand-alone plans do.
2. Initial Coverage Phase: Enrollees pay 25% of total drug costs, while Part D plans cover the remaining 75%, up to $4,660 in 2023. People commonly use copayments and coinsurance in this phase.
3. Coverage Gap Phase (Donut Hole): Enrollees pay 25% of total drug costs, including both brand-name and generic drugs. Part D plans pay 75% of generic drug costs, 5% of brand-name drug costs, and drug manufacturers provide a 70% price discount on brands.
4. Catastrophic Phase: Medicare pays 80%, while the Part D plan pays 15%. You will be responsible for paying 5% of the total cost. If your out-of-pocket expenses, plus any discounts on brand-name drugs offered by the manufacturer, add up to more than a certain amount, you may qualify for catastrophic coverage. This means that you won’t have to pay as much and your coverage can help cover some or all of your remaining costs.
Part 2: Changes Coming in 2024
In 2024, several modifications will be implemented to improve the Medicare Part D benefit:
1. Elimination of 5% Coinsurance: In Part D coverage enrollment, specific thresholds determine the amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket for your prescription drugs. Beginning in 2024, the threshold for reaching catastrophic coverage is $8,000. This means that if your total drug costs for a single year hit or exceed this amount, you essentially cap them at $8,000, and you don’t need to pay any additional amount. Additionally, before reaching the catastrophic coverage phase, enrollees no longer need to cover 5% of their drug costs as they previously did – they have eliminated this requirement. This change ensures that no one enrolled in Part D has to worry about paying too much for their medications during a single year.
2. Increased Plan Contribution: Part D plans will now be required to pay 20% of total drug costs in the catastrophic phase, up from 15% in previous years.
Part 3: Changes Coming in 2025
Medicare Part D benefit will introduce the following changes in 2025:
1. Out-of-Pocket Spending Cap: When you enroll in Part D, the amount of money that you will have to pay for your medications out of your own pocket each year is limited to $2,000. This means that no matter how much your medicines cost, you will never have to pay more than $2,000. Every year, this limit might change based on the average cost of Part D medicines for everyone. That way, the limit stays up to date with how much medications cost and you can still get the help that you need.
2. Elimination of Coverage Gap Phase: The coverage gap phase, where enrollees faced 100% of their drug costs, will be eliminated in 2025. Enrollees will no longer experience a change in their cost sharing when transitioning from the initial coverage phase.
3. Adjustments in Cost Sharing: Medicare Donut Hole Part D plans will help cover the costs of your prescription drugs when they reach a certain amount. When your costs get very high, Part D plans will pay 60% of what you owe, and the drug companies will reduce the cost of their brand-name medicines by 20%. Before your costs get too high, Part D plans will still help out – they’ll pay 65% of the cost, and drug companies will reduce the price of their brand-name drugs by 10%. That way, you can get the medicine you need without spending too much.
Part 4: Additional Changes to Part D
Apart from the significant changes mentioned above, several additional modifications will be made to Medicare Donut Hole Part D:
1. Affordable Insulin: Starting in 2023, the cost of insulin products will be capped at $35 per month for all Part D plans.
2. Vaccination Coverage: Part D will cover adult vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine, without any cost sharing.
3. Full Benefits for Low-Income Individuals: Beginning in 2024, individuals with incomes up to 150% of the poverty level will be eligible for full benefits under the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) Program. The act will eliminate the partial LIS benefit for individuals with incomes between 135% and 150% of the poverty level.
4. Premium Adjustments: Starting in 2024, the amount of money that people on Medicare have to pay each year will not be allowed to go up by more than 6%. This means if it goes up at all, it can only go up by a maximum of 6%.
Part 5: Medicare Part D Improved Out-of-Pocket Costs
Starting in 2025, Part D enrollees will have the option to spread out their out-of-pocket costs over the year instead of facing high expenses in a particular month.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is making changes to Medicare Part D that will help make prescription drugs more affordable for people with Medicare and prevent them from falling into the notorious ‘medicare donut hole part d’. It sets a limit on how much you can have to pay out-of-pocket, ensuring your costs won’t be as high. Additionally, it eliminates the gap in coverage, so you won’t have to put up with full price for medications when they are most needed. Finally, they are changing the way we share the cost of medicines. This means both Medicare and you will contribute less money towards medicine costs, providing relief all around. By implementing these changes, the Act aims to reduce healthcare disparities and ensure access for everyone.
The Medicare donut hole part d is an issue that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 seeks to mitigate. People with Medicare donut hole will find prescription drugs more affordable due to its changes, and they won’t have to worry about falling into the ‘Medicare donut hole part d’.