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Prescription Drugs and Medicare Part D: A Report on Access, Satisfaction, and Cost

Access, satisfaction, and cost issues related to prescription drugs in general and the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit specifically were examined in this October 2007 telephone survey of 400 adults aged 50-64 not yet eligible for Medicare and 400 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older with the drug benefit. Results suggest that people aged 50 and older are generally satisfied with their access to brand name and generic prescription drugs and are willing to talk to their physicians and other health professionals about their prescription drug options. Older adults who have Medicare Part D drug coverage report high levels of satisfaction with the plan and their premiums, with many stating that prescription drugs are more affordable now than they were prior to their enrollment.

Specifically, it was found that:

  • Use of prescription drugs varied by age, with 22% of individuals aged 65 and older using seven or more prescription drugs, compared with 13% of individuals aged 50-64.
  • Large majorities of respondents in both age groups said they are willing to use generic medicines to reduce costs, and about two-thirds (63%) said they always or usually ask their doctor if a generic is available.
  • About eight in ten individuals (78%) aged 65 and older with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage said they think they made a good choice in selecting their drug plan, and about six in ten said they are extremely (17%) or very (42%) satisfied with their current plan.
  • About two-thirds of respondents with Medicare Part D coverage said they think their prescription drugs are much more affordable (20%), somewhat more affordable (24%), or just as affordable (19%) as they were before their enrollment. About two-thirds said the savings they received were better or about the same as they had expected.

This telephone survey of 400 adults aged 50-64 not yet eligible for Medicare and 400 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older with the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit was conducted for AARP during October 2007 by Woelfel Research, Inc. Further information about the survey may be obtained by contacting Dr. Keenan, the report's author, at 202-434-6274. (37 pages)

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