Nearly 5.4 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved more than $4.1 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today. Seniors in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "donut hole" have saved an average of $768. During the first seven months of 2012, the new health care law has helped nearly 18 million people with original Medicare get at least one preventive service at no cost to them.
"The health care law has saved people with Medicare over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs, and given millions of beneficiaries access to cancer screenings, mammograms and other preventive services for free," said Secretary Sebelius. "Medicare is stronger thanks to the health care law, saving people money and offering new benefits at no cost to seniors."
The health care law includes benefits to make Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable. In 2010, anyone with Medicare who hit the prescription drug donut hole received a $250 rebate. In 2011, people with Medicare who hit the donut hole began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs and a discount on generic drugs. These discounts and Medicare coverage gradually increase until 2020 when the donut hole is fully closed.
The health care law also makes it easier for people with Medicare to stay healthy. Prior to 2011, people with Medicare had to pay extra for many preventive health services. These costs made it difficult for people to get the health care they needed. For example, before the health care law passed, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 for a colorectal cancer screening. Now, many preventive services are offered free of charge to beneficiaries, with no deductible or co-pay, so that cost is no longer a barrier for seniors who want to stay healthy and treat problems early.
In 2012 alone, 18 million people with traditional Medicare have received at least one preventive service at no cost to them. This includes 1.65 million who have taken advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided by the Affordable Care Act -- over 500,000 more than had used this service by this point in the year in 2011. In 2011, an estimated 32.5 million people with traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage received one or more preventive benefits free of charge.
For state-by-state information on savings in the donut hole, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/donut-hole-data-chart.pdf (PDF - 206 KB)
For state-by-state information on utilization of free preventive services, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/preventive-data-chart-first-seven-months-2012.pdf (PDF - 281 KB)