The average basic premium for Medicare prescription drug plans in 2013 is projected to stay about the same as this year, about $30 a month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday.  The average premium for this year, also projected at $30, ultimately averaged $29.67. The drug benefit took effect in 2006, and most of Minnesota’s 700,000 beneficiaries receive the supplemental coverage, which is nearly free to very low income people.

Since Congress acted in 2010 to begin closing the “doughnut hole” gap in the benefit, beneficiaries have received an additional $3.9 billion savings on prescription drugs, an average of about $600 per person, Sebelius said.

The projection for 2013 premiums was based on bids submitted by drug companies and health plans for basic coverage. Open enrollment for next year begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, when beneficiaries who wish may change plans.

--Warren Wolfe

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