Savings from drug discount cards: relief for Medicare beneficiaries?

Juliette Cubanski, Richard G Frank, Arnold M Epstein
Health Affairs 2004, : W4-198-209
Beginning in mid-2004, Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in prescription drug discount card programs approved by the federal government. We estimate modest savings for beneficiaries without drug coverage from existing drug discount card programs, with average savings of 17.4 percent over current retail prices. Although estimated percentage savings are greater on generics than brand-name drugs, estimated absolute dollar savings are greater for brands. Medicare-approved discount card savings for individual beneficiaries will depend on current out-of-pocket drug spending, the number and types of drugs used, and specific card program features. Aggregate savings estimates vary widely, based on uncertainty in discounts and program participation rates.

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