PHARMACY

Analysis of Medicare Part D shows more than 90 percent of seniors have coverage

BY Adam Kraemer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. A University of Michigan analysis of Medicare Part D revealed that less than ten percent of older Americans are now without insurance due to the prescription drug plan, Reuters reported.

In 1998, a survey of seniors between the ages of 65 and 79 showed that 71 percent had prescription drug coverage. Michigan economists David Weir and Helen Levy reported that the number was not much higher by 2004, but in the three years following, it has grown to over 90 percent.

“The unique aspect of this study is that Part D participation can be looked at in context of income, health, Rx use, prior Rx coverage, and other factors,” Weir noted. “The key findings are that Part D participation is widespread and this helped to ‘level the playing field’ in the sense that low income seniors are now just as likely to have prescription drug coverage as high-income seniors.”

Confidence in the program has also risen since its original inception. “In late 2005, people expressed a lot of confusion and worry about making bad decisions. In 2006, people mostly said the decision was not very difficult and they had confidence they had made a good choice,” Weir told Reuters Health.

Eighty-six percent of those interviewed in 2006 said they planned to sign up for the program again the following year and of those who didn’t, the most important factor was that they did not use enough prescription drugs to make up for the premiums and deductibles. Seniors with worse self-reported health and higher use of prescription drugs in 2004 were more likely than others to sign up, the report said.

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Pfizer appoints D’Amelio to COO position

BY Adam Kraemer

NEW YORK Pfizer announced that Frank D’Amelio, a senior executive with almost three decades of extensive operating and financial experience at AT&T, Lucent Technologies and Alcatel-Lucent, will become Pfizer’s senior vice president and chief financial officer effective mid-September.

D’Amelio, currently Senior Executive Vice President, Integration and chief administrative officer at Alcatel-Lucent, will join Pfizer’s Executive Leadership Team. He will have responsibility for all aspects of the company’s finances, including treasury, tax, the controller’s division and investor development. He succeeds Alan Levin, whose resignation from Pfizer was announced in May.

“We are very pleased that an executive with Frank’s skills, integrity, global experience and proven leadership is joining our management team,” said chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Kindler. “Through almost three decades at AT&T, Lucent and Alcatel-Lucent in both operating and financial roles, Frank was a senior executive in global companies undergoing the kind of rapid and complex changes we have undertaken at Pfizer in response to our own rapidly changing markets.”

“I am delighted to join Pfizer, a company with outstanding management, great people and what I truly believe is a very promising future in the forefront of medical innovation. In just a short period of time, Jeff has demonstrated strong leadership in setting a course for Pfizer to change the way it does business, so that it will be in the best possible position to take advantage of growing global demand for high-quality healthcare,” D’Amelio said. “Together with my finance colleagues, we’ll work hard to ensure that all aspects of Pfizer’s global financial strategy and operations help to advance these critical business imperatives.”

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Judge rules in favor of Roche on Ventana buyout

BY Drew Buono

PHOENIX Roche Holding moved closer yesterday to acquiring Ventana Medical Systems when a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping Ventana from using parts of an Arizona anti-takeover law that was going to be used to fight off the buyout.

Roche is seeking to make the anti-takeover law declared unconstitutional. The law states that Roche, even if a controlling shareholder, would have to wait three years to take control of the company.

Roche did though extend its deadline for the offer to buy the medical testing devices maker until 5 p.m. Sept. 20. The disagreement with the two companies is money, as Roche wants to pay only $75 per share as compared to the $83.58 price that each share rose to yesterday, according to the Associated Press. Nearly a month ago, Ventana said in a statement to its shareholders that the “board of directors continues to believe that Roche’s bid is wholly inadequate and recommends that stockholders not tender any of their shares to Roche. Not only is the offer significantly below our current market price, it does not even come close to reflecting the intrinsic value of the company, its strong growth prospects in an accelerating market and the synergy value of Ventana to Roche.”

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