Donuts and drugs

Medicare patients are likely to discontinue their medication in December. Why? Are they busy with the Christmas holidays? Do they have additional expenses for gifts and limited funds for prescription drugs? Perhaps. Another idea advanced by Kaplan and Zhang (2014) is that Medicare’s benefit structure encourages discontinuation. Why is that? Medicare’s Part D drug plan…

Walmart is the low-price leader

…at least when it comes to prescription drugs.  Health Pocket reports that the lowest cost Part D plan is the Humana/Walmart RX plan which charges a monthly premium of $12.60.  In 2013, AARP MedicareRX Saver Plus from UnitedHealthcare was the lowest cost plan and charged a premium of $15.  In 2014, however, the monthly premium…

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Enrollment Trends in 2013

According to research from Avalere, Medicare beneficiaries are overwhelmingly choosing low-cost Part D prescription drug plans . In 2013, more than 500,000 beneficiaries enrolled in the brand new AARP Saver Plus plan—catapulting it to a position in the top 10 list of plans in its first year. With the addition of Humana/Walmart and First Health Part D Value Plus, nearly 3 million beneficiaries are choosing low-premium plans with preferred…

How to drop the individual mandate and avoid the collapse of the private health insurance market

Today, the Supreme Court is deciding  whether to let many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. ACA, a.k.a. Health Reform, a.k.a. Obamacare) stand.  One of the key provisions is the individual mandate.  The individual mandate requires all individuals to purchase health insurance.  If you don’t buy health insurance, you must pay a…

Optimal Choices of Medicare Part D Plans

Are elderly Medicare beneficiaries able to choose Part D health plans optimally?  Many researchers may believe the answer is no.  Certain elderly individuals  (e.g., those with Alzheimer’s) may be cognitively impaired.  Inertia is also a problem; switching plans is mentally taxing and involves a spending a significant amount of time researching plan alternatives. Nevertheless, a…

Does Prescription Drug Coverage Save Money?

Many experts have claimed that increasing Medicare beneficiary’s access to prescription drugs through Medicare Part D is cost saving.  Even if it does increase cost, by increasing patient adherence to various prescription drugs, Medicare could prevent certain expensive hospitalizations and emergency room visits. The only problem is that it doesn’t. According to Liu et al.…

Trends in Medicare Part D

Recent research from Avalere Health, LLC using Medicare Part D reveals some interesting trends.  Overall, premiums for fee-for-service prescription drug plans (PDPs) increased by 3%.  For beneficiaries who enrolled in a Top 10 plan, however, premiums actually decreased by 6%.  This result was driven by a 12% decrease in premiums for the largest PDP, AARP…

Estimating the Effects of Consolidating Drugs under Part D or Part B

Currently, most Medicare beneficiaries are able to receive coverage for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D. Some drugs, however, are still covered by Medicare Part B, which covers physician services. These drugs are generally those furnished incident to a physician’s service and are administered using durable medical equipment. To simplify coverage policy, Medicare is considering…