Average Massachusetts Medicare recipient saved $648 this year on drugs under health law
More than 62,000 seniors and people with disabilities in Massachusetts have saved money on their prescription drugs since President Obama’s health care overhaul law was enacted in 2010, according to a report to be released Monday by the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The report is the latest in the administration’s push to trumpet the benefits of the controversial law before a Supreme Court ruling, expected this week, on whether the measure is constitutional.
The agency’s data show that Massachusetts seniors and those with disabilities who are covered by Medicare have saved, on average, $648 so far this year. Since 2010, the savings in Massachusetts have totaled more than $64.2 million on prescription drugs bought by people who had reached the so-called “donut hole” coverage gap, according to the report.
The donut hole refers to a gap in prescription drug coverage through the Medicare Part D program. That gap kicks in when a Medicare beneficiary this year reaches $2,930 in prescription drug costs. The gap ends when a person’s total out-of-pocket costs reach $4,700.
Under the health care law, people with Medicare who hit the donut hole in 2010 received a one-time $250 rebate. In 2011, they began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 7 percent coverage of generic drugs bought in the donut hole.
That gap in coverage is slated to be fully closed by 2020 -- if that part of the law is not thrown out by the Supreme Court.
Before the law was enacted, the AARP regularly heard from many older Americans who struggled to pay for their medicines, said David Certner, legislative policy director for the organization, which lobbies on behalf of those over 50 years old.
“People were responsible for the full cost of their drugs, and we heard from people who were stopping their drugs, and then were getting sicker, leading to a higher cost of care,” Certner said.
The average person on Medicare is living on a yearly income of just over $20,000, so a yearly savings of nearly $650 for prescription drugs is significant, Certner said.
“It’s a big deal not just in terms of dollars in people’s pocket, but the ability to stay on the medicine,” Certner said.
Nationwide, since the health care law was passed, more than 5.2 million people with Medicare have saved over $3.7 billion on prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole coverage gap, according to the government’s report.Kay Lazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.