WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- More than 5.2 million U.S. seniors and those with disabilities saved $4 billion on prescription drugs since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, officials say.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, showed in the first half of 2012, more than 1 million people with Medicare saved a total of $687 million on prescription drugs in "doughnut hole" coverage gap for an average of $629 in savings this year.
"Millions of people with Medicare have been paying less for prescription drugs thanks to the healthcare law," Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a statement. "Seniors and people with disabilities have already saved close to $4 billion. In 2020, the donut hole will be closed thanks to the Affordable Care Act."
These savings are automatically applied to prescription drugs that people with Medicare purchase, after they hit the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, known as the doughnut hole. Since the law was enacted, seniors and people with disabilities have had several opportunities to save on prescription drugs including:
-- In 2010, people on Medicare who hit the doughnut hole received a one-time $250 rebate totaling $946 million for 2010,
-- In 2011, people with Medicare began receiving a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 7 percent coverage of generic drugs in the doughnut hole.
-- This year, Medicare coverage for generic drugs in the coverage gap rose to 14 percent. For the first six months of the year, people with Medicare saved $687 million.