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D Is Still For Donut Hole

August 25, 2009
According to a new RAND Corporation study, Medicare part D has exceeded expectations during its first two years, extending pharmacy coverage to most seniors while reducing their overall spending on drugs. Although Medicare Part D generated confusion when it was introduced in January 2006, the program has worked well for most seniors and is comparable to other non-Medicare drug plans that cover large groups of seniors, according to the report published in the August edition of the American Journal of Managed Care. Said Geoffrey Joyce, the study’s lead author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, "Most seniors now have prescription drug coverage that allows them to buy drugs at a reasonable cost." However, researchers say problems remain with Medicare Part D. A substantial number of predominantly low-income seniors still need to be better educated that enrolling in the program is in their interest and given instruction about how to evaluate the many plans offered to choose the one that best meets their prescription drug needs. In addition, the annual spending caps included in the plans leave too many seniors without pharmacy coverage for a portion of each year, according to researchers. Recent work suggests that 3 million seniors reached the so called "donut hole" or gap in Part D coverage during 2007, with about 20 percent of seniors stopping their medications after their coverage lapsed for the year. For more on choosing the best Medicare Part D plan, read //