KRC Research

Medicare Part D Continues to Earn Strong Marks from America's Seniors

November 12, 2009

New Medicare Today-KRC Research Survey Shows Nearly 9 Out of 10 Part D Enrollees Satisfied with Prescription Drug Program

Almost four years after the Medicare Part D prescription drug program went into effect, an overwhelming majority (88 percent) of America's seniors approve of their individual plan and coverage. In a national survey released this morning by the nonpartisan Medicare Today Coalition, 95 percent of seniors who used their plan and received prescriptions over the past year also reported that their plan has worked well, while 85 percent continue to find their monthly premium to be affordable.

"The original intention behind Medicare Part D was to provide health security and the highest-quality prescription drugs at a price that seniors could afford," Medicare Today co-chairs John Breaux, former U.S. Senator and Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of the nation's leading healthcare companies and organizations said in a joint statement. "Without question, the program has exceeded everyone's expectations."

The survey, conducted from October 16-25 by market research firm KRC Research, offers the latest evidence that seniors continue to see the prescription drug program as a success. The annual open enrollment period, in which Americans eligible for Medicare can add, drop or change their prescription drug coverage for 2010, begins on Sunday, November 15th.

  • Part D satisfaction is trending upward: Overall satisfaction with the Medicare prescription drug benefit has grown from 78 percent to 88 percent, up ten percentage points since early 2006. In Florida, a state with the second highest number of Medicare beneficiaries, 93 percent of seniors reported being satisfied with their Medicare prescription drug coverage. Eighty-nine percent in New York express satisfaction.
  • Seniors are getting what they expected: Eighty-seven percent of seniors report that their Medicare Part D plan is delivering what it said it would when they signed up. More than eight in ten seniors surveyed would recommend the program to someone who is not currently enrolled.
  • More than two out of three seniors say they are "better off" with Medicare Part D: Sixty-eight percent of seniors say that they are better off now than before they had the prescription drug coverage, consistent with the findings of the first survey in 2006.
  • Seniors are closely following the healthcare debate: Nearly 75 percent of seniors with Medicare Part D report that they are closely following developments in the healthcare reform debate.

"Across the board, it's clear that seniors have embraced Medicare Part D and believe it is working for them," said Mark Richards, Senior Vice President of KRC Research. "The fact that eight in 10 Part D recipients would encourage someone to sign up for the program shows tremendous confidence." For the first time since Medicare Today began the surveys, seniors were asked a series of questions about the impact the "doughnut hole" has on their benefit and about their concerns with access and affordability to their prescription drugs. Of those surveyed, 74 percent supported a proposal in which pharmaceutical companies would offer a 50 percent price reduction on all brand name drugs for Medicare Part D beneficiaries in the coverage gap. Nearly 80 percent of seniors surveyed find their existing out-of-pocket costs to be reasonable.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently reported that 26 million enrollees in Medicare Part D have access to more than 2,000 plans, offered by a range of providers. The Congressional Budget Office's current 10-year estimate for total Part D spending decreased $82 billion compared with its 2008 estimate for the same 10-year period, making a total three-year drop of $520 billion, or 43 percent, compared with what was estimated in 2006.

Medicare beneficiaries are encouraged to review individual plans to make sure that their selection continues to meet their needs. For more information about the survey and Medicare open enrollment process, visit www.medicaretoday.org.

Survey Methodology

This nationally representative telephone survey of 2,247 seniors enrolled in Medicare, of which 409 were seniors with a Medicare Rx plan, was conducted from October 16-25, 2009. The margin of error for seniors with a Medicare Rx plan is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

About Medicare Today

Healthcare Leadership Council launched Medicare Today in November 2004 to reach out to Medicare beneficiaries who needed reliable information on how to get the greatest value from the new Medicare benefits. Medicare Today administers the partnership of over 400 national and local organizations including American Academy of Family Physicians, National Association of Family Physicians, and National Alliance for Hispanic Health. Medicare Today develops innovative tools for use by all partners, commissions research studies, and undertakes earned media efforts and outreach to inform beneficiaries about the value of the benefits under the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA).

Media Contacts:

Allison Dye

(202) 3452-8700

Sean Donahue

(202) 347-7946

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