The average monthly premium for a basic Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2018 is estimated to be $33.50 per month – or approximately $1.20 less than the average premium in 2017 – the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced last week. The projection is based on bids submitted by drug and health plans for basic drug coverage for the 2017 benefit year. CMS noted that spending for the Part D program continues to increase faster than spending for other parts of Medicare, largely driven by spending on high-cost specialty drugs. The 2017 Medicare Trustees report noted growth in Medicare spending on prescription drugs continues to exceed growth in other Medicare spending and in overall U.S. health care spending. CMS anticipates releasing the premiums and costs for Medicare health and drug plans for the 2018 calendar year in mid-September.