From Kaiser Family Foundation email
update, Monday, December 10, 2007
CONTACTS: Craig Palosky,
Kirran Syed, 202-347-5270,
With the 2008 open enrollment period for Medicare Part D plans
underway, and with more than 24 million people on Medicare now
enrolled in a Medicare drug plan, the Kaiser Family Foundation
two new Medicare Part D Data Spotlights that examine benefit
design and cost sharing, and the use of specialty tiers for
high-cost drugs in 2008. This series also includes previously
released spotlights that focus on Medicare drug plan premiums
and gap coverage, based on analysis of the 47 unique,
stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plans available
nationwide in 2008. Key findings from the new spotlights
Nearly half of the national Medicare drug plans have
increased the amount enrollees pay for brand-name drugs.
Since 2006, average cost sharing for a 30-day supply of
“non-preferred” brand-name drugs increased by 29 percent,
from $55.36 to $71.31, while average cost sharing for
“preferred” brand drugs increased by 11 percent, from $26.87
to $29.86. Cost sharing for generic drugs has remained
fairly stable since 2006.
Specialty tiers are commonly used by stand-alone Medicare
prescription drug plans for relatively expensive drugs (at
least $600 per month), and plans are able to charge more for
specialty-tier drugs than they typically do for preferred or
non-preferred drugs. For 2008, 41 of the 47 nationally
available Medicare drug plans place some drugs on a
specialty tier – about twice the number of plans that had a
specialty tier in 2006.
The Foundation has also issued the fourth and final report in a
series based on one-on-one interviews with 35 Medicare
beneficiaries since the Medicare drug benefit’s implementation
in 2006. This latest report, “Voices
of Beneficiaries: Attitudes Toward Medicare Part D Open
Enrollment for 2008,” focuses primarily on the recent
experiences of Part D enrollees, and finds that most enrollees
do not intend to reexamine their drug coverage options for the
coming year or switch to a different Part D plan. Some are
content to stay with their current plan, based on their
experience so far, while others say they do not want to revisit
the time-consuming process of comparing and choosing from among
the multitude of plans available.
The Foundation has also updated
“Talking About Medicare,” its online consumer guide designed
to help people with Medicare coverage, and their families,
understand their options and make decisions regarding Medicare
coverage. The guide includes detailed information about
Medicare’s drug benefit, as well as Medicare’s other covered
benefits, supplemental insurance options, and the Medicare
Advantage program, and includes a state-by-state list of
resources for additional information.
The Part D open enrollment period for 2008 runs from November 15
through December 31, 2007. During this period, beneficiaries
have the opportunity to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan to get
drug coverage or make changes to their existing plan for 2008.
The Foundation has a number of
additional Part D resources available online.