Few seniors expected to change Medicare Part D drug plans

December 1, 2010

Seniors are satisfied with the current program (84%) because they believe it offers good value for the cost

NATIONAL REPORTS-A recent survey examined seniors' views on Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and found that seniors were satisfied with the current program (84%) because they believe it offers good value for the cost.

The study, which surveyed 1,243 seniors, was conducted by KRC Research and commissioned by the Medicare Today coalition, an alliance of more than 400 national and local organizations committed to providing seniors and near-retirees with reliable information on Medicare benefits and program changes.

Nearly 80% of seniors surveyed reported their Part D premiums and copayments were affordable, while 94% said they understood how their plan works and know how to use it.

"On the survey, we couldn't ask about premium increases because (a) they would vary from plan to plan and (b) we don't yet know what those increases might be," says Michael Freeman, executive vice president, Healthcare Leadership Council. "However, the seniors surveyed are already in the program and many would have already experienced a premium increase at the beginning of this year, so it wouldn't be a new phenomenon for them."

Of the seniors surveyed, 65% reported that they felt no need to shop for a different plan, while 31% said it was very likely they would compare their current plan to available alternatives. The organization believes that seniors are finding value in their current plans.

However, only one in five seniors were aware that eligible beneficiaries who have drug spending which places them in the "donut hole" will receive a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs beginning next year. Freeman cites the need for both the public and private sector to continue outreach to the Medicare beneficiary community with information about the program.

"We believe the best way to conduct outreach is through community organizations with strong public credibility," he says. "We are going to be working to activate this coalition to conduct public education on key Part D provisions, but we believe the public sector needs to be active in this area as well."