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Kaiser Study Compares Medicare Part D Plans, Highlights Changes

A new analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation provides a profile of the 2007 Medicare stand-alone drug plans that are being offered to the program’s 43 million beneficiaries for 2007. It highlights some of the changes between the 2006 and 2007 plans, and the need for consumers to consider how those changes might affect them. The analysis is an important resource during the six-week open enrollment period when Medicare recipients can choose a new plan. Although clotting factor is still covered under Medicare Part B and not Part D, some members of the bleeding disorders community also use drugs covered by Part D, including HIV/AIDS drugs and pain medications.

The analysis looks at such key features as premiums, covered drugs and the amount enrollees pay to fill a prescription, all of which affect out-of-pocket costs and access to drugs for people with Medicare. It also describes the 1,875 stand-alone drug plans offered for 2007.

In addition, the study provides an in-depth look at the 10 plans nationwide with the largest number of enrollees in 2006. It highlights changes they have made to their coverage of brand-name and generic drugs. For instance, most of those plans dropped coverage for two popular brand-name drugs in favor of newly available generic equivalents.  Such changes underscore the importance for Medicare beneficiaries in reviewing key features of drug plans before enrolling in a plan for 2007.

Medicare’s six-week open enrollment period runs from November 15 to December 31, 2006, providing recipients a once a year window of opportunity to make changes to their drug coverage.

The study, Benefit Design and Formularies of Medicare Drug Plans: A Comparison of 2006 and 2007 Offerings, was conducted by Jack Hoadley of Georgetown University, Elizabeth Hargrave of the National Organization for Research (NORC) at the University of Chicago, and Juliette Cubanski and Tricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation. It is available online in PDF format at:


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