Drug Benefit Enrollment Raises Concerns

eAlert 8ec356a4-b8f9-4d0d-b570-f15ee7c6ff42

<p>Medicare beneficiaries began enrolling in the new prescription drug benefit this week. News reports across the country suggested that many enrollees were bewildered by the new program's complexity. In most states, people can select from among 40 prescription drug plans.<br /><br />But complexity is not the only issue raised by Medicare Part D. A Commonwealth Fund-supported <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=19550&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D283968%26%23doc283968">study </a>published in <em>Health Affairs</em> last July estimates that, in the first year under the standard drug benefit, 38 percent of enrollees will be subject to a no-coverage gap, known as the "doughnut hole," and 14 percent will exceed the threshold of catastrophic coverage.<br /><br />One possible solution, some experts propose, is to offer beneficiaries a comprehensive benefit option that eliminates the need to purchase private drug plans or Medigap supplemental coverage. In "<a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=19533&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D302930%26%23doc302930">Medicare Extra: A Comprehensive Benefit Option for Medicare Beneficiaries</a>," Fund president Karen Davis and colleagues explain how a new Medicare "Part E"—which they dub "Medicare Extra"—might alleviate the confusion surrounding the new Part D drug benefit, reduce beneficiary expenses, and potentially lower barriers to essential care.<br /><br />Visit the Fund's <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=19532&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2FGeneral%2FGeneral%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D319700%26%23doc319700">Medicare Resources page</a> for a collection of our offerings on Medicare's impact on health care and the program's challenges.</p>