As Open Enrollment Ends, People with Medicare save $1.5 billion on prescriptions

by Kathleen Sebelius

If you’ve had a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan for a few years, you’ll know that December is the end of Medicare Open Enrollment.  This year, the last day for you to choose new Medicare health or prescription drug coverage for 2012 is December 7, earlier than it’s been in previous years.

December 7 is tomorrow.  But you still have until midnight tomorrow if you want to make a change  to your medical or prescription drug coverage.

And as you are reviewing your plan, remember that Medicare is only getting stronger. New data released today shows how millions of seniors have gotten cheaper prescription drugs and free preventive services, all thanks to the President’s health reform law.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut hole is starting to close. Through the end of October, 2.65 million people with Medicare have received discounts on brand name drugs in the donut hole.  These discounts have saved seniors and people with disabilities a total of $1.5 billion on prescriptions – averaging about $569 per person.  For State-by-State information on the number of people who are benefiting from this discount in 2011, visit this page.

Over the coming years, the Affordable Care Act will help close the coverage gap completely. Each year from now to 2020, you’ll pay less for brand name and generic drugs in the coverage gap.  And in 2020, the coverage gap will be eliminated and the donut hole will be closed for good.

In addition to cheaper prescription drugs, the Affordable Care Act also made preventive services available to people with Medicare for free. Preventive care helps people stay healthy and live longer lives. Through the end of November nearly 24.2 million people with Medicare have received one or more free preventive services, including Medicare’s new free Annual Wellness Visit.  For State-by-State information on the numbers of people who are utilizing preventive services in 2011, visit this page.

These new benefits are just two ways the Affordable Care Act is making Medicare and our health care system stronger and giving hardworking families the security they deserve. It has helped lower your Part B premium in 2012 by $22.  And, on average, Medicare Advantage premiums will be lower in 2012 as enrollment continues to rise.

And if you haven’t reviewed your Medicare coverage, take time now to compare your current coverage with other options to make sure your plan will meet your health care needs for the coming year.  Medicare now offers better choices, more benefits, and lower costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Visit www.Medicare.gov/open-enrollment/ for more information.

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