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Mass. Medicare subscribers save $36.9 million

BOSTON  —

A total of nearly 63,000 Massachusetts residents enrolled in the Medicare Part D drug program saved $36.9 million in 2011 in lowered drug costs because of provisions in the Affordable Care Act.

The savings were attributable to the health reform law that shrinks the so-called ‘donut hole’ in the Medicare Part D drug program. Massachusetts ranked 18th in the nation for the number of Medicare members helped by the plan, according to Mass Home Care.

When the Medicare Part D program was created, there was a gap in coverage, where most beneficiaries would pay 100 percent of their drug costs while still paying their premiums.  This gap — which occurs after the plan pays a certain amount, but before beneficiaries hit catastrophic coverage — is called the “donut hole.”

The Affordable Care Act is closing the donut hole over time, and according to the federal government, has already saved seniors and people with disabilities over $3 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted in March 2010.

In 2011, seniors and people with disabilities who reached the coverage gap in Medicare Part D coverage automatically received a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic drugs.  These discounts will continue to grow over time until the donut hole is closed.

The average beneficiary in Massachusetts saved $587. Of the total Medicare members who saved money on lowered drug costs, 58 percent (36,289) were women.

The Federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) estimates that nationally nearly 3.6 million people with Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs in 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

In 2011, the 3.6 million Americans who hit the donut hole saved an average of $604 on the cost of their prescription drugs. The savings average in Massachusetts was slightly lower, at $587 per beneficiary. National data also show that women especially benefitted from the law’s provision with 2.05 million women saving $1.2 billion on their prescription drugs.

By 2020, the donut hole will be closed completely.  Typical Medicare beneficiaries will save an average of nearly $4,200 from 2011 to 2021. People with high prescription drug costs could save as much as $16,000.

According to HHS, the savings are a product of provisions in the Affordable Care Act and other cost trends that:

•Decrease prescription drug costs for seniors;

•Make preventive services like mammograms free for everyone in Medicare;

•Reduce growth in Part B premiums (for physician services);

•Reduce growth in cost-sharing under both Parts A (hospital care) and Part B.

 

2 Responses to “Mass. Medicare subscribers save $36.9 million”

  1. Dennis Byron says:

    This article is misleading to senior citizens and
    pure Obama presidential campaign propaganda.

    You say:

    “When the Medicare Part D program was created, there was a gap in
    coverage, where most beneficiaries would pay 100 percent of their drug
    costs while still paying their premiums.”

    The coverage gap does not affect “most beneficiaries.” Nationwide the
    gap affected only about 8% of Medicare beneficiaries. Based on your
    report of sixty thousand getting discounted drug prices in
    Massachusetts, the percentage must be even lower in Massachusetts.

    You say:

    “The Affordable Care Act is closing the donut hole over time…”

    It is the fact that the drug companies are reducing their prices over
    time that is actually “closing the donut hole.” Not that I am not
    defending the drug companies. They are reducing prices because most of
    the drugs are going generic.

    You say:

    “(The ACA) has already saved seniors and people with disabilities over
    $3 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted in March
    2010.”

    This statement does not make it clear that it is just as much programs
    such as Prescription Advantage as seniors that get the so-called
    savings. I have no problem with the savings, just your wording. But
    basically there is no reason for anyone in Massachusetts on Medicare,
    even if making as much as $55,000 in retirement, to be very highly
    penalized by the donut hole (and again, less than one in 10 are likely
    to fall into it in the first place)

    You say:

    “These discounts will continue to grow over time until the donut hole
    is closed.”

    You need to explain to senior citizens that the process of the donut
    hole being closed does not mean they get drugs for free or at
    catastrophic prices after the senior reaches what is now the donut
    hole. It just means the co-pays come down to 25%.

    You say:

    “The average beneficiary in Massachusetts saved $587.”

    Again, you need to make it clear that you mean the average beneficiary
    in the donut hole (about 6% of the people on Medicare in
    Massachusetts).

    Also, and really despicable, there is nothing in these programs that
    have anything to do with women. You are just playing on the fact that
    most elderly are women. It is a disgusting and demeaning propaganda
    technique.

    You say:

    “By 2020… Typical Medicare beneficiaries will save an average of
    nearly $4,200 from 2011 to 2021.”

    Now you are misreading the HHS report or even more blatantly deceiving
    senior citizens. You have picked up a part of the HHS report that
    talks about broader savings having nothing particularly to do with the
    donut hole. This section of the HHS Obama presidential campaign
    propaganda is misleading for three reasons:

    1. The calculations do not include the $200 million being cut from
    Medicare Part C by Obamacare; when these cuts are included — so as to
    make the numbers apply to the “typical Medicare beneficiary” that you
    claim they apply to — the “savings” are less than $100 a year (or
    $1000 from now until 2022 instead of $4000)

    2. These so called Obamacare Medicare savings assume that all the cuts
    such as to home health care, nursing homes, hospitals and the billions
    that the death panel is supposed to save actually happen. This is as
    unlikely to happen as the doctor cuts which are supposed to happen at
    the end of this month

    3. As with my point above about the “donut hole” savings going as much
    to Prescription Advantage as to seniors, most of these other savings
    do not go to seniors but to Medicare Savings Programs such as QMB
    (again, I have no problem with saving money, just your misleading way
    of presenting them)

    You also say this information is “according to Mass Home Care.” I
    cannot find any reference to this information on its web site but I
    will contact them as well.

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