Because of the health care law -- the Affordable Care Act -- the average person with traditional Medicare will save $5,000 from 2010 to 2022, according to a report today from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. People with Medicare who have high prescription drug costs will save much more -- more than $18,000 -- over the same period.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also announced that, because of the health care law, more than 5.5 million seniors and people with disabilities saved nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted. Seniors in the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut hole have saved an average of $641 in the first eight months of 2012 alone. This includes $195 million in savings on prescriptions for diabetes, over $140 million on drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and $75 million on cancer drugs so far this year. Also in the first eight months of 2012, more than 19 million people with original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them.
"I am pleased that the health care law is helping so many seniors save money on their prescription drug costs," Secretary Sebelius said. "A $5,000 savings will go a long way for many beneficiaries on fixed incomes and tight budgets."
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 will be 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 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. Because of the Affordable Care Act, many preventive services are now offered free to beneficiaries (with no deductible or co-pay) so the cost is no longer a barrier for seniors who want to stay healthy and treat problems early.
In 2012 alone, 19 million people with traditional Medicare have received at least one preventive service at no cost to them. This includes 1.9 million who have taken advantage of the Annual Wellness Visit provided by the Affordable Care Act -- almost 600,000 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://downloads.cms.gov/files/Summary-Chart-2010-2012.pdf
For state-by-state information on utilization of free preventive services, please visit: http://downloads.cms.gov/files/preventive-services-data.pdf
For more information on the estimate that the average Medicare beneficiary will save $5,000 from 2010 to 2022 as a result of the health care law, please visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/beneficiarysavings/ib.shtml