Medicare's looming premium hike
Monthly premiums that cover physician and outpatient care for Medicare patients will increase by 15% next year, the Biden administration said in a notice Friday evening.
Why it matters: People on Medicare are getting slammed with a big hike during an election year, due largely to the big price tag from the questionable Alzheimer's treatment, Aduhelm, and uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus.
By the numbers: Standard Medicare Part B premiums will be $170.10 per month next year, up from $148.50 per month this year.
- That equals an extra $259.20 in extra costs over the course of the year, just in premiums.
- The Part B deductible also is increasing 15%, from $203 to $233.
Between the lines: Medicare is still determining whether it will pay for Aduhelm yet, but federal actuaries have to plan for a "high-cost scenario of Aduhelm coverage," regulators said.
- The FDA approved Aduhelm in June, and Biogen priced Aduhelm at $56,000 per year on average.
- That price tag, along with all of the hospital and doctor costs associated with administering the drug and ancillary tests, could lead to "very significant" costs for the taxpayer-funded program, according to the notice.
The bottom line: The pandemic has made it difficult to predict future Medicare spending, such as trying to determine whether patients will get more non-COVID care that had been put off.
- But Aduhelm — a treatment that has not conclusively proved that it improves brain function of Alzheimer's patients — is now a high-profile example of pharma pricing power affecting Medicare patients' pocketbooks and represents a redistribution of taxpayer money into Biogen's coffers.