No Prescription Increase and Other Medicare Updates Announced

(August 17, 2011)



There is good news for many Medicare recipients who have chronic lung diseases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that in 2012, average Medicare prescription premiums will not increase.

The average Medicare prescription drug plan premium will be about $30 in 2012, almost a dollar decrease from the $30.76 it was in 2011.

That is important to people with asthma and COPD who need to take one or more prescription medications to manage their disease well, which helps them avoid the more expensive incidents of emergency and hospital care when they don’t have those medications.

The Affordable Care Act is also trying to close the prescription medication drug “donut hole” by increasing discounts for drugs covered in the donut hole. The “donut hole” is the gap in Medicare coverage where beneficiaries have to pay all out-of-pocket expenses for medications. HHS indicates that 900,000 Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole received a 50 percent discount on their prescription drugs. Lower out-of-pocket costs make it easier for people to take the right medication at the right time. And that is better health care.

The Affordable Care Act also enables people with Medicare to receive free preventive medical benefits, as well as a free yearly doctor’s wellness visit. HHS also released data showing 17 million people on Medicare have received preventive services this year. This important wellness visit can make a difference for millions of Americans living with lung disease to make sure they are up-to-date on their immunizations and other preventive check-ups. These wellness visits can also provide a venue for Medicare beneficiaries to discuss quitting smoking with their doctor and begin smoking cessation treatment.

The national and regional premium data can be found here. Click here to learn more from the HHS website.