Ten-year Medicare costs $117 billion lower than original estimates

WASHINGTON According to new reports, the cost of the Medicare prescription drug plan will be $117 billion lower over the next 10 years than what was estimated last summer due to the slowing of drug costs trends, lower estimates of plan spending and higher rebates from drug manufacturers. The new cost is now expected to be $243.7 billion, or 38.5 percent lower, than the 10-year period projection of 2004 to 2013 used originally by the Medicare Modernization Act.

Moreover, following the third open enrollment season for the prescription drug program, there are 1.5 million more enrollees in Part D, bringing the total number of beneficiaries enrolled in Part D to 25.4 million. The total number of Medicare beneficiaries with drug coverage is now about 39.5 million.

Overall, about 90 percent of the nation’s 44 million Medicare beneficiaries have drug coverage from Medicare or another source. Approximately 25.4 million are enrolled in Part D; 6.6 million retirees are enrolled in employer or union-sponsored retiree drug coverage that receives the Retiree Drug Subsidy; and 7.5 million are receiving drug coverage from other alternative creditable sources such as TRICARE; the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program; the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or from their current employers.

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