Missourians on Medicare have saved more than $26 million so far this year on prescription drugs and Kansans more than $10 million, thanks to one of the lesser-known provisions of the Affordable Care Act, a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says.
Medicare Part D, which offers insurance coverage for drugs, requires consumers to pay the full cost of their medications once their drug spending reaches a certain level. This is known as the “donut hole,” as the coverage eventually kicks in again once a person’s drug spending reaches catastrophic levels.
The health reform law gradually phases out the donut hole.
According to the report, 34,746 Medicare beneficiaries in Missouri have saved an average of $755 each so far in 2014 because of the expanded drug coverage. That works out to $26.2 million saved in Missouri and more than $229 million since the provision took effect in 2010.
Similarly, 14,359 Medicare beneficiaries in Kansas have saved an average of $721 each in 2014. That works out to more than $10 million saved in Kansas and almost $107 million since the provision took effect.
According to HHS, nationwide more than 8.2 million seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare have saved $11.5 billion since 2010 because of the ACA.
The news comes on the heels of continued historic low levels of growth in Medicare spending. According to a recent Medicare Trustees report, the life of the Trust Fund has been extended to 2030, up from its projection of 2017 in 2009, and Part B premiums, which cover lab tests, surgeries, doctor visits and medical supplies, are expected to stay the same rather than increase for the second year in a row.
Additionally, a new HHS report found that per capita Medicare spending growth averaged 2 percent in 2009–2012 and nearly 0 percent in 2013, one-third of the growth rate during the 2000-2008 period.
In 2014, consumers with a Medicare prescription drug plan who fall into the donut hole will save an estimated 53 percent on brand-name drugs and 28 percent on generic drugs, because of discounts and increased coverage.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the savings from the phasing out of the "donut hole" were for all of 2014. The story and headline have been corrected to say that the amounts are what Missourians and Kansans have saved so far this year.