WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Seventeen million Medicare recipients got free preventive services and 900,000 got a 50 percent break on prescription costs under healthcare reform, data show.
"The Affordable Care Act is delivering on its promise of better healthcare for people with Medicare," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday in a release. "People with Medicare who hit the doughnut hole are paying less for their prescription drugs, 17 million Americans have received free preventive services and prescription drug premiums will remain low."
The dollar amount of out-of-pocket savings on drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries rose to $461 million saved through June 2011, up from $260 million through May 2011, Health and Human Services data indicated. Beneficiaries in the doughnut hole -- the coverage gap in Medicare Part D drug benefit -- saved more $200 million in the month of June alone.
Under the healthcare law, people with original Medicare can receive recommended preventive benefits and a new annual wellness checkup without paying additional out-of-pocket expenses. Also, the healthcare law is systematically closing the prescription drug gap by providing increasing discounts on covered drugs.
Sibelius said the Medicare average prescription drug premiums won't increase in 2012 and the cost of the average Medicare prescription drug plan premium in 2012 would be about $30, down slightly from the 2011 average premium of $30.76. The announcement was based on bids submitted by Part D plans for the 2012 plan year.
"The Affordable Care Act continues to improve the value of the drug coverage people with Medicare will receive next year," said Donald M. Berwick, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "Out-of-pocket costs will be lower thanks to discounts on brand name prescription drugs and increasing generic coverage for people in the doughnut hole."