-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Despite concerns that the
complex offerings under Medicare Part D prescription drug plans
would confuse older Americans, a new study finds seniors are able
to figure out which plan costs them the least.
The researchers found evidence that seniors -- possibly with the
help of family members -- quickly adapted and made changes as
The findings may ease concerns among some experts about elderly
people's ability to understand complicated drug insurance products
and select the least expensive, according to the University of
Texas at Austin researchers.
They analyzed data from more than 71,000 people who were
enrolled in stand-alone prescription drug plans provided or
administered by CVS Caremark in 2006 and 2007 and who did not
receive a federal low-income subsidy in either year.
From 2006 to 2007, 81 percent of the people in the study lowered
their "overspending" by an average of $298 -- 55 percent of the
The oldest people and those beginning to take Alzheimer's
medications had higher-than-average reductions in overspending,
suggesting that family members and others help them choose plans,
the researchers said.
"Having a multitude of options to choose from is economically efficient because we are all different and have different needs," Eugenio Miravete, an associate professor of economics, said in a university news release.
Medicare Part D plans can have different premiums, co-pays and
formularies (a list of covered drugs), according to the American
Academy of Family Physicians.
"Restricting choices reduces the ability of firms to target individuals with specific needs, and it is not efficient that we all insure against unlikely risks. Medicare Part D is a successful implementation of a market-based approach to deliver a large-scale entitlement program."
The drug plans are popular with beneficiaries, according to the
The study will be published in the journal
American Economic Review.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
Medicare Part D.
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