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Healthcare law credited for big drug savings by California seniors

June 25, 2012|By Chad Terhune
  • California residents on Medicare saved $585 on average through May under the Affordable Care Act, data show.
California residents on Medicare saved $585 on average through May under… (Joe Raedle/Getty Images )

Nearly 70,000 Medicare patients in California saved $41 million on their prescription drugs during the first five months of this year under the federal healthcare law, new data show.

Touting the early benefits of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare officials said these patients have saved $585, on average, through a provision that is gradually phasing out the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole on Part D drug plans.

In 2012, prescription-drug coverage for Medicare patients stops when their spending reaches $2,930 and resumes at $4,700.

This year, the federal healthcare law calls for drug makers to provide a 50% discount on brand-name drugs to most beneficiaries who are in the coverage gap and there’s also a 14% discount on generic drugs.

The doughnut hole will be eliminated by 2020 if the federal overhaul stands. The U.S. Supreme Courtis is expected to announce its ruling on the constitutionality of the law Thursday.

Experts say pharmaceutical companies may continue the discounts voluntarily, even without the law, to keep patients on brand-name drugs and to avoid disruptions for seniors.

Overall, Californians with Medicare have saved $311 million on prescription drugs since the law was passed in 2010, according to federal data. Nationwide, the savings have topped $3.7 billion since 2010.

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