Nine out of 10 Medicare beneficiaries are satisfied with their Part D prescription drug coverage, according to an annual survey conducted by Medicare Today and KRC Research, Modern Healthcare reports.
The survey, which polled 2,363 beneficiaries, found that 60% of elderly U.S. residents obtain drug coverage through Medicare Part D. The 90% satisfaction rate is the highest since the survey began in 2006, when the satisfaction rate was 78%. Further, more than 80% of respondents characterized the plan as predictable, affordable, reasonable and a good value.
Although the poll found that 68% of respondents said a variety of drug plan options is important, it also found that 61% were unaware of the CMS Plan Finder online tool for selecting health and drug coverage.
Mark Richards, senior vice president of KRC Research, said that the finding shows that there is "significant opportunity to educate and empower millions of seniors who are happy with their coverage, but who are not yet focused on this year's enrollment and the flexibility to change plans" (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 10/3).
Researchers said the poll indicates that beneficiaries "feel peace of mind" with the program and regard it as a "safety net."
Without Part D coverage, the poll found that:
- 84% of respondents said they would have higher out-of-pocket drug costs;
- 61% said they would be unable to fill all of their prescriptions; and
- 53% said they would be more likely to cut back or stop taking medicine (Jackson, USA Today, 10/3).
Analysts Discourage Program Changes
The results prompted several analysts to urge Medicare to maintain the current program, instead of adopting several proposals to change it, such as allowing HHS to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers or having Medicare adopt a system in which drugmakers provide Medicare with required rebates, similar to the Medicaid program.
David Kendall, senior fellow for Health and Fiscal Policy of Third Way and former health advisor for President Clinton; Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council; and Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, all said that the current system is successful and any changes could be disruptive (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 10/3).