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Pricy new medicine means higher Part B premiums

Senior News

The Medicare Part B monthly premium is going up in 2022 by $21.60, one of the biggest increases ever. The reason for it, they say, is the massive cost of a new Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. Our new premium will be $170 per month.

That’s going to be a big bite out of our new Social Security increase, $92 for the average recipient with a benefit of $1,657 per month.

Aduhelm will cost $56,000 per year per patient. And that’s only the beginning of the questions and concerns.

Whether Medicare is going to pay for the drug is still up in the air because it originally thought the price would be much less, closer to $3,000. Certain other insurers have already stated they won’t cover it unless the cost comes down.

As recently as a year ago, U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers voted against approving the drug as they wondered whether it really works. Clinical trials were inconclusive. Initially the FDA said it was for people with Alzheimer’s, but they’ve already changed their prescribing information and narrowed the criteria for receiving it. Now Aduhelm is for people with very early Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia. It’s no cure, they say, but it slows progression of the disease.

Part of its cost is that it has to be given in an IV in a doctor’s office or hospital. Many hospitals, not knowing if they’ll be paid for administering it (that $56,000 is for the drug only) and who should have it, are holding back. Some are even insisting on doing their own in-house research to see if it works.

Doctors, not knowing if their patients can get the drug, are often hesitant to prescribe it and raise hopes in patients.

Still, we’ll be paying that increased Part B premium in 2022 while they work things out and determine whether Medicare will pay for Aduhelm.

(c) 2021 King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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