Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Industry Programs May Best Medicare Drug Benefit


The November 15 enrollment date for the Medicare drug benefit is drawing near, but a new study shows that some lower-income seniors may want to consider signing up for assistance programs sponsored by drug companies instead. Researchers found that the Medicare drug benefit provides the most savings on annual drug costs only for seniors living at or near the federal poverty line. However, once annual income approaches 135 to 150 percent of the poverty line, the line between drug companies’ programs and Medicare begins to blur; for those with income surpassing 150 percent of the federal poverty line, industry programs are the far better choice – 77 percent of savings compared to 31 percent with Medicare. Furthermore, late enrollment in the Medicare drug benefit invokes a penalty of higher monthly premiums. Drug company programs do have their limitations, however – the range of drugs offered may be limited, and most people are utterly unaware of the existence of such programs. Click here to view the Reuters news article on this topic.    

The study, Impact of the Medicare Modernization Act on Low-Income Persons Dawn E. Havrda, PharmD, BCPS; Beth A. Omundsen, MD; William Bender, MD; and Mary Ann Kirkpatrick, PhD appears in the Oct. 18 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

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