Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Medicare Prescription Benefit Program Has Exceeded Expectations, Study Finds

Date:
August 24, 2009
Source:
RAND Corporation
Summary:
The program created to provide Medicare recipients with prescription drug benefits exceeded expectations during its first two years as it extended pharmacy coverage to most seniors while reducing their overall spending on drugs, according to a study.

The program created to provide Medicare recipients with prescription drug benefits exceeded expectations during its first two years, extending pharmacy coverage to most seniors while reducing their overall spending on drugs, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Although Medicare Part D generated confusion when it was introduced in January 2006, the program has worked well for most seniors and is comparable to other non-Medicare drug plans that cover large groups of seniors, according to the report published in the August edition of the American Journal of Managed Care.

"In the beginning there was a lot of concern about Medicare Part D, but we found convincing evidence that it has exceeded expectations and generally has been successful," said Geoffrey Joyce, the study's lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Most seniors now have prescription drug coverage that allows them to buy drugs at a reasonable cost."

Researchers estimate that during its first year in 2006, Medicare Part D resulted in a 16 percent drop in out-of-pocket spending among seniors for prescription medication and a 7 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled. The savings appears to have been concentrated among the poor and disabled.

"It appears that Medicare Part D has been particularly successful in lowering costs for the poor and the disabled, which is an important finding since initially there was concern these groups would be particularly vulnerable under a privately administered benefit," Joyce said.

Researchers from RAND Health used administrative records to examine seniors' participation in the Medicare Part D program, including how the program has affected seniors' access to medications, their use of prescription drugs and their financial risk. They also compared the 10 largest Part D plans in 2006 to seven non-Medicare drug plans often cited as examples of low-cost or generous pharmacy benefits.

After two years, about 90 percent of seniors have drug coverage at least as generous as the standard Part D benefit. Medicare recipients in most states could choose from more than 50 different Part D plans in 2008, a sign of competition among the private companies that provide the coverage.

The number of covered drugs in the 10 largest Medicare Part D plans compared favorably with the coverage provided by other prescription drug plans that insure seniors, such as those offered by Kaiser Permanente, the Veterans Administration and the California Public Employees Retirement System.

Among the 300 prescription drugs most often used by seniors, about half were covered under the lowest co-payment tiers provided by the 10 largest Medicare Part D plans, according to the study. The number of drugs not covered varied from four to 41 among the largest Part D plans. In contrast, Kaiser Permanente and the Veterans Administration excluded 75 and 84 medications, respectively.

Although the program has exceeded initial expectations, researchers say problems remain with Medicare Part D.

A substantial number of predominantly low-income seniors still need to be better educated that enrolling in the program is in their interest and given instruction about how to evaluate the many plans offered to choose the one that best meets their prescription drug needs.

In addition, the annual spending caps included in the plans leave too many seniors without pharmacy coverage for a portion of each year, according to researchers. Recent work suggests that 3 million seniors reached the so called "donut hole" or gap in Part D coverage during 2007, with about 20 percent of seniors stopping their medications after their coverage lapsed for the year.

Funding for the study was provided by the California HealthCare Foundation, the National Institute on Aging through its support of the RAND Roybal Center for Health Policy Simulation and the Bing Center for Health Economics.

Other authors of the study are Dana Goldman and William B. Vogt of RAND, and Eric Sun and Anupam B. Jena of RAND and the University of Chicago.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RAND Corporation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

RAND Corporation. "Medicare Prescription Benefit Program Has Exceeded Expectations, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824115909.htm>.
RAND Corporation. (2009, August 24). Medicare Prescription Benefit Program Has Exceeded Expectations, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824115909.htm
RAND Corporation. "Medicare Prescription Benefit Program Has Exceeded Expectations, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824115909.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins