Affordable Health Care Benefits 3 Million to Date, Strengthens Medicare

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Kathleen Sebelius announced three million Medicare beneficiaries have received prescription drug cost relief to date as the result of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Health care reform has resulted in a reimbursed of $250 to Medicare recipients falling into the stage 2 Medicare coverage gap, or donut hole. In a press release, Secretary Sebelius says, "The Affordable Care Act offers long overdue relief by lowering prescription drug costs each year until the donut hole is closed.”

Though the rebates will help, for many Medicare beneficiaries, it's a drop in the bucket, for those hemmed in by brand name medications for which there are no generic substitutes.

However, Secretary Sebelius says the rebate for falling into the donut hole is just the first step. This year, Medicare recipients will receive a 50 percent discount on covered brand name medications, defraying out of pocket expense for drugs like insulin, brand name inhaler, Alzheimer’s medications and Plavix that cost hundreds of dollars for a 30-day supply.

In 2011, Medicare will also pay 7 percent of the cost of generic medications during the coverage gap. Physical exams are paid for as well – the “Welcome to Medicare Visit” will no longer require co-pay for the first time since 1965. Original Medicare also covers an annual wellness exam at no cost.


Other free services for most people include cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopy. Physicians will receive a 10 percent bonus to ensure primary care physicians will continue to serve the Medicare population.

Over the next 10 years, health care reform is anticipated to save traditional Medicare recipients $3500. For those with disabilities and seniors, the savings increases to $12,300 associated high cost drugs.

The savings estimated from health care reform come from an analysis issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Finally, the Affordable Health Care Act will help prevent waste and fraud, says Sebelius. There will be stronger penalties, better screening of physicians participating in Medicare and Medicaid and a searchable countrywide database to track claims.

In addition to the 3 million Medicare beneficiaries who have benefited from rebates in 2010, Sebelius says the Affordable Health Care Act will strengthen Medicare for the future.