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InsiderOnline Blog: August 2004

Discounts on Drugs Should Be an Easy Sell

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new study out, which gives some figures for how much seniors can save using various Medicare discount drug cards. The results below are based on weekly pricing from May to June of this year on 10 drugs commonly prescribed to Medicare recipients.

The results of our pricing analysis are consistent with what card program proponents have said: at least some cards do provide savings when compared with the retail prices paid by cash customers...

A Medicare beneficiary purchasing at retail one of the 10 drugs sampled would save between 8% and 61% for a drug, with the precise level of savings dependent on the specific drug, card program, and location of the pharmacy.

Savings on brand products were less in terms of percentages than generics but more in actual dollars. For example, the highest percentages in savings – 61% and 89% -- were for a generic, furosemide, which retails in urban Maryland at $9.04 to $10.89 for a 30-day supply.

Using mail order provides significantly greater savings for the sample of drugs over the Maryland Attorney General's reported prices, providing savings of 23% to 89%, again depending on the product, the card program, and location, although most cards require the purchase of a 90-day supply rather than a 30-day supply.

Another Kaiser study analyzes seniors' perceptions of the discount card and the new Medicare law in general. Also a Heritage look at the discount card-- perhaps the first step toward a market revolution?

Posted on 08/12/04 12:18 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

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