Besides the obvious – access to cheap generic alternatives for once exorbitantly priced prescriptions – this year’s patent expirations on blockbuster brand-name drugs means even more good news for American consumers. A U.S. News and World Report article suggests the Patent Cliff as one of the reasons for the forecasted Medicare savings. Access to low-cost generics on popular drugs like Lipitor cuts spending significantly for plan sponsors, and U.S. officials have announced that enrollees paying for prescription drugs through Medicare Part D will not see an increase in premiums, in contrast with prior years. Rather, the yearly fees will decrease slightly – from an average of $30.76 in 2011 to $30.00 in 2012. All current plan premiums can be found on MedicareDrugPlans.com – Compare Costs and Features.
Moreover, plan enrollees are now receiving a 50% discount on brand name drugs purchased through the coverage gap. However, brand name drug prices continue to increase, which means the discount’s importance is less pronounced.
In addition to low generic drug prices, there are other reasons for the Medicare price cuts as well. U.S. News and World Report says, “competition between private insurance plans” the and the Affordable Care Act, through which patients make use of preventative measures such as cancer and colon screenings factor in as well.
While this is good news for Part D plan enrollees, difficulties persist with the plans, especially when formularies do not cover needed medication and if out-of-pocket spending during the coverage gap, even with the discounts, is unaffordable. Another problem often reported by plan enrollees is poor customer service, such as long phone-wait times, confusing notifications, and rude behavior.
Extensive research is recommended before committing to a 2012 plan. Remember to read what other plan enrollees have experienced by checking out the ratings and reviews at MedicareDrugPlans.com. And if you’re already using a Medicare drug plan, please rate your plan to help others as well.Tagged with: brand name drugs, compare costs, consumers, customer service, discount, generics, Medicare Drug Plans, Part D, Patent Cliff, U.S. News and World Report, United States