More Seniors Have Drug Coverage, Study Says

The number of seniors with prescription drug coverage has soared since the implementation of Medicare Part D, but some still struggle with high payments, according to a report released this week by the journal Health Affairs. The report, based on a study of 16,000 seniors by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Commonwealth Fund and Tufts-New England Medical Center, found 8 percent of seniors lacked prescription drug coverage in 2006, down from 33 percent in 2005 before Medicare Part D took effect.

But, a quarter of seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D reported spending more than $100 a month on prescriptions, and 8 percent reported spending more than $300.

“The Medicare drug law achieved its primary goal of providing drug coverage to most seniors who previously lacked it,” Kaiser President and CEO Drew E. Altman said in a statement. “But the survey found a significant number of seniors in Part D plans paying sizable amounts out-of-pocket for their medications and delaying or not filling their prescriptions for cost reasons.”

continued…The study found 20 percent of seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D reported delaying or not filling prescriptions due to costs in the past year.

Part of the problem, according to the report, is that many low-income seniors who are eligible for additional subsidies are not receiving them. The study found about half of these seniors were not aware subsidies were available.