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90 percent of seniors happy with Medicare prescription coverage

Results of a new national survey conducted by Medicare Today and KRC Research shows that 9 in 10 seniors are satisfied with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, up from 78 percent satisfaction when the program was first launched.

"It's very rare to get 9 out of 10 people to agree on anything, but Medicare Part D has sustained that level of acceptance and popularity," said Mary R. Grealy, chairman of Medicare Today and president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, in a press release.  "Beneficiaries view Part D as affordable, reliable and user-friendly. It's become an essential component of seniors' healthcare."

The survey showed that 96 percent of seniors say the coverage works well and that nearly 3 out of 4 seniors say it works "very well."

In addition to their satisfaction with Medicare Part D, seniors won't be seeing any jump in their premiums, which would remain at an average of around $30 per month for the third year in a row. The premiums are also significantly lower than they were forecast to be in a 2004 report from the Medicare Trustees, which anticipated 2013 Part D preimums to be near $61 per month.

Officials at America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) trumpeted the recent findings.

"These survey findings are further evidence of the high-quality, affordable coverage Medicare drug plans are providing to millions of seniors and people with disabilities," said Karen Ignani, AHIP president and CEO, in a prepared statement. "Medicare drug plans' efforts to encourage the use of more affordable generic drugs and promote the most effective treatments for patients are helping to keep coverage affordable for Medicare beneficiaries and saving taxpayers billions of dollars."

Other findings of the report include:

  • 84 percent of seniors report that their out-of-pocket drug costs would be much higher without Part D, and 61 percent would be unable to fill all of their prescriptions. 53 percent said they would be more likely to cut back or stop taking medicine altogether.
  • 91 percent of seniors earning less than $15,000 per year and 95 percent of those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid report being satisfied with the program.
  • Those feeling "peace of mind" by having Part D coverage has increased 16 points (78 to 94 percent) since 2006. At the same time, those feeling frustrated has declined 8 percentage points over the past year.
  • Despite differences over a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues, Democratic and Republican seniors share a 90 percent satisfaction rate with their Part D coverage.
  • More than 8 in 10 seniors report that their plan is predictable, affordable, reasonable and offers good value.

"Only once before in the history of this survey have we seen a 90 percent satisfaction rate and it is a testament to the strength of the program," said Mark Richards, senior vice president of KRC Research, in a press release. "At the same time, there is a significant opportunity to educate and empower millions of seniors who are happy with their coverage, but who are not yet focused on this year's open enrollment and the flexibility to change plans."

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