How do you define health care success? Patient satisfaction? Increased access to care? Cost to the system? Balancing these components can serve as a challenge to lawmakers. However, Medicare Part D continuously meets each of these criteria for success.
According to a survey released last week, a whopping 90% of Medicare Part D beneficiaries feel satisfied with their prescription drug coverage. The poll, conducted by Medicare Today, interviewed 2,363 seniors nationwide about their prescription drug coverage. In addition to the staggering popularity of the program, the poll found that 8 in 10 seniors felt their plan was predictable, affordable, reasonable, and offered good value. These findings represent the highest ever satisfaction levels across all measures.
As Medicare Today Chairwoman, Mary Grealy remarked, “It's very rare to get nine out of 10 people to agree on anything, but Medicare Part D has sustained that level of acceptance and popularity.”
Medicare Part D may be popular, but the program also continues to be cost-effective for both seniors and the government. At a time when health care spending in the U.S. continues to increase, Part D has come in 41% under budget. For seniors, recent projections show that the average premium prices will remain steady for the fourth year in a row. Additionally, an influx of new programs—many of which have premiums under $20—provides seniors with varied choices to fit their health care needs.
Despite Part D’s success, some lawmakers have proposed adjustments that threaten the program. With 60% of seniors receiving their prescription drugs through Medicare, efforts to cut health care costs should not jeopardize the market-based equilibrium of Part D that has fueled its success. Instead of changing a program that works, Medicare Part D should serve as a model, highlighting how the health care system can provide access to quality health care while also achieving cost savings.