WASHINGTON – Almost 4 million seniors saved about $2.16 billion through discounts for their prescription medications in 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services plans to announce today.
This, administrators say, should help keep costs to the government down in the future.
“Before, many beneficiaries were forced to stop taking the drugs,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “This reduces costs through better management.”
When Medicare recipients are able to take their medications, Blum said, they are hospitalized less often for heart attacks, low blood sugar and asthma attacks. So far, he added, available data don’t reflect savings for those hospitalizations to Medicare.
Three of the medications on the top 10 list of savings for seniors were for mental health conditions — drugs that can help to prevent costlier in-patient treatment.
The 2010 health care law required a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the so-called doughnut hole, or the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Medicare drug benefit, also known as Part D. In 2012, the coverage gap is $2,930. The Affordable Care Acteliminates the doughnut hole by 2020.
The previous report, with numbers through the end of October, had shown 2.65 million Medicare recipients saved $1.5 billion on prescriptions. That rose to 3.76 million recipients by the end of December.