WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- A program providing competitive bidding on durable medical equipment for patients on Medicare is saving millions, U.S. health officials said.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Health and Human Services, said the program saved $202 million in its first year in nine metropolitan statistical areas -- a reduction of 42 percent in costs.
As the program expands under the Affordable Care Act it could save as much as $42.8 billion for taxpayers and beneficiaries over the next 10 years.
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we can expand this successful example of healthcare reform to include more areas and achieve savings on a national level over the next few years. People with Medicare across the country will get the medical equipment they need to live their lives, while saving them and other taxpayers money in the process," Sebelius said in a statement. "The law is already saving those with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their healthcare needs -- from medical equipment to prescription drugs -- and they will continue to save in the years to come."
Seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare will directly save a projected $17.1 billion due to lower co-insurance for durable medical equipment and lower premiums for Medicare during the next decade, while taxpayers are projected to save an additional $25.7 billion through the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund because of reduced prices, Sebelius said.
People with Medicare saved as much as $105 on hospital beds, $168 on oxygen concentrators and $140 on diabetic test strips in 20122, Sebelius said.