Savings for seniors in Medicare Part D

study published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association found that American seniors’ increased access to medicines via the Medicare prescription drug program led to reduced spending on post-acute care such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Medicare Part D enrollees who had inadequate prescription drug coverage or no prescription drug coverage prior to enrolling in the Part D benefit each saved an average of $1,200 per year, which resulted in savings of $12 billion in federal spending for non-drug costs in the Medicare program,according to the Associated Press.

“Expanding the Medicare program to incorporate a drug benefit increased the use of prescription drugs, lowered out-of- pocket costs and improved adherence to prescriptions,” study lead author Dr. J. Michael McWilliams told Bloomberg.

In the study, the authors concluded, “In concert with previous studies, these findings suggest that increased medication use and adherence achieved through expanded drug coverage for seniors have been associated with decreased spending for non-drug medical care.”

The study offers further proof that the current Medicare Part D program is working and working well.

Today, more than 29 million Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a Part D plan, and 90 percent of all beneficiaries have comprehensive drug coverage. Polls have consistently shown that Medicare Part D enrollees are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage.

And, as we wrote about here, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid have shown that seniors are saving money as they reach the coverage gap in the Medicare Part D design.

Prescription medicines play an essential role in disease management and prevention. AstraZeneca believes the Medicare Part D program is a model for how the private sector and public sector can work together to provide critical access to medicines that improve our nation’s health.

To read PhRMA’s view, click here.

-By Laura Woodin