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Medicare Part B premiums increased in 2022 from $148.50 per month to $170.10. Part A covers hospitalization while Part B covers doctor visits, diagnostics, and other services. This was the largest Part B premium increase in the history of Medicare, and for those high income earners subject to IRMAA the cost is much more. In comparison, the premium increase for 2021 was only $3 per month.

The price increase appears to be have been caused by a single drug.

The U.S. FDA gave permission to Biogen (drug company) approval to start marketing a new drug called Aduhelm. Aduhelm is a monoclonal antibody treatment for early-stage Alzheimer’s. The cost of Aduhelm was initially priced by Biogen at $56,000 per year — after negotiations it was reduced a mere $28,200. It should be noted, these “negotiations” were not conducted by Medicare because Medicare does not have the authority to negotiate drug prices.

In their justification for the Part B premium increase, Medicare (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) referenced Aduhelm specifically along with COVID as the reason for the price increase. Nobody believes COVID to be the reason for the price increase as the premium for 2021 only increased by $3.

There are some issues with Aduhelm and the AARP is currently lobbying to have the Medicare premiums reduced. First, the efficacy of Aduhelm is in question (only time will tell as to the drug’s efficacy). Second, Medicare is requiring patients who are taking Aduhelm to be included in new clinical trials of the the drug.

References: (1) https://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-2022/part-b-premium-increase-reassess-alzheimers-drug.html? (2) https://apnews.com/article/business-health-medicaid-medication-medicare-78842ee6a557f85861e4e980d96c29d3?