Medicare Beneficiaries To Save $1,500 From New Prescription Drug Benefit, Study Finds
Seniors' out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs is expected to drop once the new Medicare drug benefit takes effect, according to a state-by-state analysis commissioned by Medicare Today, a partnership of organizations whose mission is to educate beneficiaries about the 2003 Medicare law, the Houston Chronicle reports. The partnership is made up of about 200 organizations, including AARP, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (Markley, Houston Chronicle, 8/25).
Medicare Today is administered by the Washington, D.C.-based Healthcare Leadership Council (Medicare Today release, 8/24). The study was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (Kansas City Star, 8/25).
Under the 2003 Medicare law, low-income seniors on average will save nearly $1,500 annually on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, according to the study. The study found that for seniors with annual incomes lower than $14,505, out-of-pocket drug costs should decrease from $1,657 to $180 annually.
Beneficiaries on average are expected to save almost $700 annually, according to the study. Drug costs for the nearly 11.8 million seniors who currently have no drug coverage are projected to fall by two-thirds, from $1,905 to $626 (Medicare Today release, 8/24).
The study also "relies on optimistic estimates" that the vast majority of beneficiaries will enroll in the prescription drug benefit, the Orlando Sentinel reports (Hunt, Orlando Sentinel, 8/25). For example, the study estimated that the percentage of Minnesota seniors with drug coverage will rise from 80% to 98% after the law is implemented.
Peter Wyckoff, executive director of the Minnesota Senior Federation, said, "I wish that were true, but I'm afraid it's wishful thinking." Wyckoff added, "For low-income people, the new drug benefit will be dramatically better -- but still confusing" (Wolfe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/24).
Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, said, "This coverage will make a profound difference in the lives of millions of older Americans and other eligible beneficiaries. For those who have struggled to make ends meet, help is most definitely on the way" (Houston Chronicle, 8/25).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.