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Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.

Selected Research

Seniors' Early Experiences with Their New Medicare Drug Plans
Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health, 7-30-06

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a survey of seniors enrolled in the new Medicare prescription drug plan. The survey found that overall satisfaction is high, and that, for most seniors, the plan has become a "major benefit". Concerns linger over the coverage gap or so-called "doughnut hole", but as yet this doesn't seem to have become a major problem.

The survey of 1,585 seniors, including 623 who are enrolled in a new Medicare Part D drug plan, reveals that, for most seniors, initial experiences under the drug benefit have been positive. About three in four seniors who are enrolled in a drug plan would choose the same plan again.

The survey also finds that about a third (34%) of seniors who have used their plan had experiences that they perceived as a problemówith 18% describing it as a "major problem" and 16% describing it as a "minor problem." The experiences cited as problems include having to pay unexpected costs, leaving the pharmacy without being able to fill a prescription, not receiving their enrollment card and having to switch drugs because one wasn't covered. Some seniors also cited having to switch from a brand-name to a generic drug as a problem, though others who reported such an experience did not consider it to be a problem.

In any case, Medicare Part D should be viewed as the first important battle in Medicare reform. There is much more that can be done to help expand services for the neediest seniors and lower costs across the Medicare program. For instance, means-testing Medicare recipients (more affluent seniors should pay more for coverage), and "voucherizing" the program so that seniors could shop for a wide range of insurance options, would all improve the programs fiscal health without impairing quality.



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