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AARP Survey Finds Medicare Drug Plans are Prescription for Healthy Drug Behaviors

Few people skipping doses or taking less than they were prescribed, but people still want government, industry to do more to lower drug prices

WASHINGTON — A new AARP survey released today finds that since enrolling in a Medicare drug plan more than 8 in 10 people have not skipped a dose of medication, taken less than their prescribed dose or decided not to fill a prescription.

Medicare has been offering drug coverage, called Medicare Part D, since 2006. Open enrollment for people to change their plans or enroll for the first time begins November 15th.

“People with prescription drug coverage practice better habits because their medications are more affordable,” said AARP Director of Policy and Strategy John Rother. “The last thing we want to see is a person cutting pills in half because they can’t pay to fill a prescription. This survey shows that Part D is not only saving people money, but allowing people to follow their doctor’s orders.”

The survey also showed high satisfaction with Part D plans, with 85 percent saying they were satisfied with their Medicare drug plan. However, respondents believe more could be done to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Nine in ten respondents said the pharmaceutical industry should do more, while nearly as many felt the government should play a larger role in driving down prescription drug prices.

The survey also revealed disturbing problems with the extra help provided under Part D to people with low incomes. Half of all respondents were not aware of part D’s low-income subsidy, which helps pay premiums, reduces co pays and provides full coverage in the Part D “doughnut hole” coverage gap.

Even more disturbing is the survey finding that only 10 percent of respondents thought they would be eligible for this low-income subsidy. In fact, one in three Medicare beneficiaries should be eligible according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). AARP believes this is due to a serious flaw in the low-income subsidy, which has an asset test that penalizes older people for having modest savings. Individuals with assets of $11,700 and higher, no matter how low their incomes, are denied the low-income subsidy.

Rother continued, “Part D is working, but when prescription drug prices continue to outpace general inflation by more than two to one, and people who need extra help paying for drugs aren’t getting it, there’s more we can be doing. Congress and the President should listen to the American people and allow for the safe and legal importation of prescription drugs, Medicare should be permitted to negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical companies, the asset test should be removed, and more should be done to speed less expensive generic alternatives to the market.”

To access the complete survey, visit here.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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