Poll: Beneficiaries Satisfied With Medicare Drug Plans
Three-fourths of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the prescription drug benefit are satisfied with their plans, and 24% are not satisfied, according to a recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive poll, Wall Street Journal Online reports. The poll, conducted between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31, included responses from 2,766 U.S. adults, 177 of whom were Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the prescription drug benefit.
Among Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the prescription drug benefit, 70% said that their prescription drug plans have reduced their medication costs and 20% said that their plans have not reduced their medication costs. In addition, 82% of those respondents said that their prescription drug plans were not difficult to use, compared with 13% who said that their plans were difficult to use, the poll found.
Half of those respondents said that their prescription plans provided them with information to help reduce their medication costs, according to the poll. In addition, 73% of those respondents said that they likely will remain in the same prescription drug plans next year and 12% said that they likely will switch plans, the poll found.
Among all respondents, 30% said that they approved of the enactment of the 2003 Medicare law, compared with 18% who disapproved and 53% who remain uncertain, the poll found (Bright, Wall Street Journal Online, 11/7).
Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has increased by 27% in the past year, and the Bush administration expects 30% of Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in such plans by 2013, the Dallas Morning News reports. MA plans are private plans that offer traditional benefits, prescription drug coverage and, in some cases, other benefits, such as dental and vision care.
According to the Morning News, many MA private fee-for-service plans "offer the same broad access to doctors and hospitals that beneficiaries enjoy in traditional Medicare," and such plans often have lower premiums than traditional Medicare. However, beneficiaries who have medical expenses might pay more under MA plans than under traditional Medicare (Moos, Dallas Morning News, 11/6).
The enrollment period for the Medicare prescription drug benefit for the 2007 plan year begins on Nov. 15, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, Medicare beneficiaries should "take a second look" at available prescription drug plans, regardless of their current medication coverage. Beneficiaries who currently have no prescription drug coverage should use the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder on the Medicare Web site.
Medicare beneficiaries should consider the premiums, deductibles and copayments for the medications that they take and the "kinds of restrictions that may be placed" on those treatments, according to the Times. In addition, Medicare beneficiaries should "double check with the plan itself" to ensure that the information on the Web site included no errors, the Times reports.
Medicare beneficiaries currently enrolled in prescription drug plans should review their coverage to determine whether the formularies or premiums of their plans have changed (Brody, New York Times, 11/7).
Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" on Tuesday reported on the start of the enrollment period for the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The segment includes comments from Conor Lee, a spokesperson for Senior Educators (Ciurczak, "KXJZ News," CPR, 11/7).
A transcript and audio of the segment are available online.