Nationally, seniors and people with disabilities with a Medicare prescription drug plan coverage saved $8.9 billion to date this year on their prescription drugs because of ACA.
In Colorado, 33,706 seniors and people with disabilities saved $28 million, an average of $831 per beneficiary, during the first 10 months of 2013. Overall, seniors in Colorado have saved $91 million since passage of the ACA.
The prescription drug plan under the ACA began in 2010 and will be fully expanded through 2020, said Mike Fierberg of CMS.
At the same time, these seniors will be free to use more of their Social Security benefit cost of living adjustment because the Medicare Part B premium will not increase in 2014. Dec. 7 is the deadline to sign up or to change benefits for Medicare.
Since the ACA was enacted, more than 7.3 million seniors and people with disabilities who reached the coverage gap in their Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) plans have saved $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs, an average of $1,209 per person since the program began.
During the first 10 months of 2013, nearly 3.4 million people nationwide who reached the coverage gap, known as the “donut hole,” this year saved $2.9 billion, an average of $866 per beneficiary. These figures are higher than at this same time last year, when 2.8 million beneficiaries had saved $1.8 billion for an average of $677 per beneficiary.
“Protecting seniors from the dreaded donut hole and high prescription drug costs is an important ACA reform that Medicare beneficiaries have come to depend on,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a news release.
For many people enrolled in Medicare Part D, the Medicare “donut hole” is the gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit before catastrophic coverage for prescriptions takes effect. Without ACA assistance, Medicare beneficiaries would pay out-of-pocket for the entire cost of prescription drugs once they hit the coverage gap, until they reached catastrophic coverage.
Under the discount program in the ACA, in 2010, anyone with a Medicare prescription drug plan who reached the prescription drug donut hole got a $250 rebate. In 2011, beneficiaries who landed in the donut hole began receiving discounts on covered brand-name drugs and savings on generic drugs. Next year, Medicare Part D participants who fall into the donut hole will receive savings of about 53 percent on the cost of brand name drugs and 28 percent on the cost of generic drugs. These savings and Medicare coverage will gradually increase until 2020, when the coverage gap will be closed.
As a result of the ACA, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans remain stable.
Earlier this year, CMS announced that the average Medicare Advantage premium in 2014 is projected to be $32.60. CMS also estimated that the average basic Medicare prescription drug plan premium in 2014 is projected to be $31 per month, holding steady for four years. The deductible for standard Part D plans will decline by $15 in 2014, to $310. Since the passage of the ACA, average MA premiums are down by 9.8 percent.