Since 2010, 9.4 million people with Medicare have saved over $15 billion on prescription drugs according to new information released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The report showed that millions of seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare continued to enjoy prescription drug savings and improved benefits in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2014 alone, nearly 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities saved $4.8 billion or an average of $941 per beneficiary. These figures are higher than in 2013, when 4.3 million saved $3.9 billion, for an average of $911 per beneficiary.
Use of preventive services has also expanded among people with Medicare. An estimated 39 million people with Medicare (including those enrolled in Medicare Advantage) took advantage of at least one preventive service with no cost sharing last year. In 2014, nearly 4.8 million people with traditional Medicare took advantage of the Annual Wellness Exam, which exceeds the comparable figure from 2013, in which over 4 million took advantage of the exam.
HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said, “By providing access to affordable prescription drugs and preventive services with no cost sharing, the Affordable Care Act is working for seniors to help keep them healthier.”
Closing the prescription drug “donut hole”
The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable by gradually closing the gap in coverage where beneficiaries had to pay the full cost of their prescriptions out of pocket, before catastrophic coverage for prescriptions took effect. The gap is known as the donut hole. The donut hole will be closed by 2020, marking 2015 as the halfway point.
Medicare preventive services
The Affordable Care Act eliminated coinsurance and the Part B deductible for recommended preventive services covered by Medicare, including many cancer screenings and other important benefits. By making certain preventive services available with no cost sharing, the Affordable Care Act is helping Americans take charge of their own health. By removing barriers to prevention, Americans and health care professionals can better prevent illness, detect problems early when treatment works best, and monitor health conditions.
Source: HHS, News Release – February 24, 2015