On the eve of the 48th anniversary of the signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law, new information released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows a strong Medicare program. Over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs as a result of the Affordable Care Act. These savings average $1,061 per beneficiary in drug costs while a beneficiary is in the "donut hole" coverage gap that the law closes over time.
In addition, 16.5 million people with traditional Medicare took advantage of at least one free preventive service in the first six months of 2013.
This news comes on the heels of historically low levels of growth in Medicare spending. From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at 1.7 percent annually, more slowly than the average rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index, and substantially more slowly than the per capita rate of growth in the economy.
"Medicare is much stronger as a result of the health care law," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Spending has slowed to historic levels, as seniors are enjoying enhanced benefits and greater savings on drugs."
Savings on Prescription Drugs
Because of the Affordable Care Act, out-of-pocket savings on medications for people with Medicare continue to grow. Over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs in the Medicare Part D donut hole since the law was enacted, for an average of $1,061.
People with Medicare in the donut hole now receive discounts and some coverage when they purchase prescription drugs at a pharmacy or order them through the mail, until they reach the catastrophic coverage phase. The Affordable Care Act gave those who reached the donut hole in 2010 a one-time $250 check, then began phasing in discounts and coverage for brand-name and generic prescription drugs beginning in 2011. The law will provide additional savings each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.
For more information on how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole, please visit: http://www.medicare.gov/part-d/costs/coverage-gap/part-d-coverage-gap.html
By making certain preventive services available with no cost-sharing obligations, the Affordable Care Act is helping Americans take charge of their own health. Americans can now better afford to work with health care professionals to prevent disease, detect problems early when treatment works best, and monitor health conditions.
In Medicare, the Affordable Care Act eliminated coinsurance and the Part B deductible for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings and other important benefits. For example, before the law's passage, a person with Medicare could pay as much as $160 in cost-sharing for some colorectal cancer screenings. Today, that screening is free.
In the first six months of 2013, 16.5 million people with traditional Medicare took advantage of at least one free preventive service.