Effect of Medicare Part D on Mortality

Huh and Reif (2017) have an interesting study of the effect of Medicare Part D on mortality.  The abstract is below. We investigate the implementation of Medicare Part D and estimate that this prescription drug benefit program reduced elderly mortality by 2.2% annually. This was driven primarily by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality, the leading cause of…

Did Medicare Part D reduce emergency room visits?

In 2006, the Medicare program was expanded to include prescription drug coverage through the Part D program. Previous studies have found that Medicare Part D improved prescription drug coverage rates among seniors (Levy and Weir,2010), increased medication utilization (Duggan and Morton, 2010), decreased out-of-pocket spending (Engelhardt and Gruber, 2011; Ketcham and Simon, 2008), and reduced medication…

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…

Too much competition?

Rarely due consumers think that too much competition is a problem.  According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), however, this is a major issue for consumers when they choose Part D prescription drug health plans.  Avalere reports that: Proposed revisions to the meaningful differences policy will restrict the market’s top sponsors from…

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…