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3.4 Seniors Hit Medicare "Doughnut Hole"

We ain't talkin' about Dunkin' Donuts either. Via Forbes, we find that last year, about 3.4 million Americans enrolled in the Medicare Part D drug plan encountered a gap in their prescription coverage, otherwise known as the "doughnut hole," leading some of them to stop taking their prescribed drugs altogether.
This comes from a new Kaiser Family Foundation study, which found 26 percent of Part D enrollees who filled any prescriptions in 2007 reached the coverage gap. (Not to mention 22 percent who were stuck in the hole for the rest of the year and 4 percent who eventually received catastrophic coverage.)
Poorna from H.M. Press isn't pleased either:

So let me get this straight, our government forces Medicare onto the 65+ age group, but then most of them who are on numerous medications, some of them very pricey, will "fall" into the donut hole, and many of them may never get back up. This is yet another serious problem with our health insurance that needs to be fixed.

The researchers also found that many enrollees also altered their usage of prescribed medication due to the coverage gap. Kaiser CEO and President Drew Altman reminds us that the new presidential administration is an opportunity for change:

"The Medicare drug benefit has produced tangible relief for millions of people, despite the unusual coverage gap that was created to make the benefit fit within budget constraints... But if a new president and Congress consider changes to the drug benefit, it will be important to keep in mind that the coverage gap has consequences for some patients with serious health conditions."

Check out some more info on Medicare prescription drug coverage at AARP's policy and research hub.

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