Over 5.8 million people using Medicare have benefited from the help the health care law gives with the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap referred to as the "donut hole".
In the initial 10 months of 2012, close to 2.8 million people have saved an average of $677 on drug prescriptions alone. At the same time, around 23.4 million people with regular medicare had one or more preventive services for free, with 2.5 million of them getting an Annual Wellness Visit.
Secretary Sebelius said:
"The health care law is saving money for people with Medicare. Everyone with Medicare should look at their health and drug plan options for additional value before the Medicare open enrollment period ends this week."
Medicare coverage stops when prescription costs total $2,930 or higher. Specifically, for 2013 the law gives individuals with medicare who are in the donut hole, higher savings with discounts increasing to 53 percent of the cost of brand name drugs and 21 percent for generic drugs. These discounts will also help seniors who have exhausted their coverage and are forced to pay out-of-pocket for prescription medications. The donut hole will be closed in 2020, until then, savings on Medicare coverage of prescription drugs will slowly grow.
The new law gives Medicare recipients the opportunity to be healthier by eliminating co-pay and deductibles for a number of preventive services. Prior to 2011, individuals with Medicare were charged out-of-pocket for many preventive services. Expenses are now less of a concern for elders who wish to treat problems early and remain healthy. An estimated 32.5 million people with original Medicare or Medicare Advantage acquired one or more free preventive benefits.
An additional benefit is that affordable drugs will encourage more people to take their mediation, resulting in reduced long-term medical costs. If a Medicare patient takes an antibiotic to ward off infection, or regularly uses their hypertension or insulin medications, they are saving the government money by stabilizing their health conditions and therefore preventing expensive emergency hospitalizations.
Open Enrollment Ends December 7Every year during Medicare's open enrollment time, those individuals with Medicare should compare expenses, advantages, and drug and health plans to define the best value for the coming year. Medicare users should explore their health care options frequently because a person's unique health issues combined with their health or prescription drug plan can be altered from year to year.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommend that Medicare users enroll in high quality plans and get the greatest value for their money. The ratings of Medicare health and prescription drug plans are important, and searching for a 5 star plan is recommended.
Written by Kelly Fitzgerald