Companies Expect Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Cards To Provide Savings of 17% to 35%
The companies that will offer prescription drug discount cards under the new Medicare law have promised average savings of 17% for brand-name drugs and 35% for generic drugs, Long Island Newsday reports. Pharmacy benefit managers "can't solve all the problems in health care," but "this is a step in the right direction," Mark Merritt, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, said. Richard Himelfarb, a professor of political science at Hofstra University, said, "There is a wait-and-see attitude about the discount card. Its success depends on whether there are real savings and whether you can easily use them" (Barfield Berry, Long Island Newsday, 4/21). As part of the new Medicare law, the discount cards will be available beginning in May to all beneficiaries who do not have prescription drug coverage through Medicaid. CMS officials have said the cards could offer savings of about 10% to 25% on beneficiaries' prescription drug costs until the new prescription drug benefit takes effect in 2006. Companies offering the cards can charge an annual enrollment fee of up to $30 and likely will offer savings on at least one drug in each of 209 categories of medicines commonly used by Medicare beneficiaries. HHS in March approved 28 private companies to offer 49 different discount cards to Medicare beneficiaries. Beneficiaries with annual incomes less than $12,569 per year for individuals or $16,862 for couples will be eligible for a $600 annual subsidy for their prescription drug costs and will not have to pay enrollment fees (California Healthline, 4/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.