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Medicare Drug Savings in California Estimated at $454 Million Over Two Years

California seniors and the disabled saved about $454 million on prescription drug costs in the past two years, according to an annual report on Medicare released by CMS Thursday.

According to federal officials, almost 300,000 Californians qualified in 2012 for the Part D Medicare coverage gap known as the “donut hole.” Last year, those beneficiaries saved roughly $183 million, the report said.

Those 300,000 Californians last year could buy covered brand name drugs at half price, and received a 14% discount on generic drugs.  Savings for both types of prescription drugs will increase over time, the report said, until the coverage gap is closed.

Federal officials highlighted several portions of the Medicare report, including:

  • The cost of Medicare Part B benefits was kept at a “moderate” level, the report said. Those benefits include outpatient care, laboratory tests and medical supplies;
  • Medicare Advantage participants paid lower average premiums in 2012 than they paid in 2010;
  • HHS projected average savings per Medicare beneficiary at about $5,000 from enactment of the Affordable Care Act through 2022. The report also said those with high prescription drug spending could save about $18,000.

According to the report, most of the savings on prescription drug savings stem from drugs used for chronic conditions.

“Drugs managing chronic conditions such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol accounted for almost 33% of savings and may have helped patients avoid hospitalization,” the report said. “About 11% of the savings were for drugs treating mental illness.”

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