Information released today by the Department of Health and Human Services shows that more than 8.2 million seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare continue to enjoy prescription drug savings as a result of the Affordable Care Act, saving $11.5 billion since 2010.
This news comes on the heels of continued historic low levels of growth in Medicare spending. According to the recent Medicare Trustees report, the life of the Trust Fund has been extended to 2030, up from its projection of 2017 in 2009, and Part B premiums are expected to stay the same rather than increase for the second year in a row. Additionally, a new HHS report found that per capita, Medicare spending growth has averaged 2 percent over 2009 -- 2012, and nearly 0 percent in 2013, one-third of the growth rate over the 2000-2008 period.
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, seniors and people with disabilities are saving on needed medications," said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. "By making prescription drugs more affordable, we are improving and promoting the best care for people with Medicare."
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 took effect. This gap is known as the donut hole.
Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, out-of-pocket savings on medications for people with Medicare prescription drug coverage continues to grow. More than 8.2 million seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare have saved over $11.5 billion on prescription drugs since 2010 as a result of discounts in the donut hole and rebates in 2010, for an average of $1,407. These figures are higher than last year at this time when over 6.6 million seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare had saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs averaging $1,061 per beneficiary in donut hole discounts.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, in 2010, anyone with a Medicare prescription drug plan who reached the prescription drug donut hole received a $250 rebate. Beginning in 2011, beneficiaries in the donut hole began receiving discounts on covered brand-name drugs and savings on generic drugs. These savings and Medicare coverage will gradually increase until 2020, when the donut hole will be closed. In 2014, people with a Medicare prescription drug plan who fall into the donut hole will save from discounts and increased coverage in the gap about 53 percent on the cost of brand name drugs and save from increased coverage in the gap about 28 percent on the cost of generic drugs.