Success of Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage a Model for Federal Health Insurance?

Individual or Family Health
Group Health Coverage

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

When first introduced almost a year ago the Medicare prescription drug health insurance coverage faced a lot of criticism. Opponents said it was going to fail. It was too confusing, there were too many plans, and seniors would reject it. Yet here we are a year later and the plan is working, and working well.

Millions of elderly Americans who lacked adequate medical insurance coverage now have a drug benefit that allows them to afford their medications. Thanks to this health insurance seniors and those with disabilities are living healthier better lives because they can now take the medications that their doctors intended for them to have. The success of the Medicare prescription drug coverage is also good news for healthcare providers who can prescribe medications, confident that their patients can obtain the medication. And even drug companies are pleased to see that the program is working. Believe it or not pharmaceutical companies are not happy to see people not taking the drugs that they have invested billions of dollars in to develop, because they cannot afford to take them.

By all accounts the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit is exceeding all expectations for a federally sponsored health insurance plan. The data shows that 38.2 million Medicare beneficiaries now have comprehensive prescription drug coverage thanks to the health insurance program. That's over 90% of the current Medicare population. Before implementation of the program it was estimated that only 24.3 million had comprehensive prescription drug coverage - that means there's been a 57% increase in the number of patients now getting help paying for their medicines thanks to this government health insurance. Maybe just as important, the program has actually cost less then projected- something that is exceedingly rare in a government program. Extrapolating how the prescription drug medical insurance benefit has worked during its first year of inaction, there's been a 20% percent, or almost 180 billion reduction in the projected total cost of the program to the federal government over the next 10 years. The average monthly dollar amount seniors spend on prescription drugs since the "Part D" health benefit has been in effect has fallen by 54%.  Bottom-line for a vast majority of seniors in this country the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit has made their lives better and easier.

One of the key criticisms of the program early on is that it gave the consumers too much choice - but that very choice has proved to be its greatest advantage. It proves that one size fits all is not acceptable to Americans when it comes to health insurance and healthcare, and serves to prove that consumer driven health insurance that offers Americans coverage for their individual healthcare is a model that can work, and bears closer attention. If the government can enact a successful, cost saving health insurance program for prescription drugs for our seniors improving both their health and finances, and yet still gives them choice and options - then why not a Government run Universal Health Insurance program for all Americans that can work the same way?