WASHINGTON — Elderly and disabled people nationwide have saved almost $9 billion on prescription drugs thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a new study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The CMS said that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act helped Medicare Part D beneficiaries save $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs, and they will be able to use more of their Social Security benefit cost of living adjustment as they choose because the Medicare Part B premium will not increase in 2014 thanks to the healthcare reform laws provisions for keeping down growth in costs.
According to the agency, the savings were due to more than 7.3 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries saving an average of $1,209 per person after reaching the gap in coverage known as the "donut hole," when beneficiaries must pay out of pocket for their drugs, before catastrophic coverage kicks in. Under the healthcare law, anyone with a Medicare prescription drug plan who reaches the gap gets a $250 rebate, and next year, they will receive savings of about 53% on the cost of branded drugs and 28% on the cost of generic drugs. The savings will gradually increase until 2020, when the donut hole will be closed.
During the first 10 months of 2013, nearly 3.4 million people who reached the gap have saved $2.9 billion, or $866 per beneficiary. By contrast, during the same period last year, the savings were $1.8 billion, or $677 per beneficiary.
"Protecting seniors from the dreaded donut hole and high prescription drug costs is an important Affordable Care Act reform that Medicare beneficiaries have come to depend on," CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner said. "Today's data shows that the law is already helping millions of seniors save billions of dollars off their needed medications."