February 25, 2015

Over 16,000 RIers Benefitted from Obamacare’s Medicare “Doughnut Hole” Fix in 2014

Medicare Beneficiaries Saving on Prescription Drugs and Preventive Services

Washington, DC – Thousands of Rhode Island seniors have saved on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act, according to federal data released this week.  In 2014, 16,337 Rhode Islanders on Medicare saved over $13.3 million on their prescriptions, for an average savings of $818 per person.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, thousands of Rhode Island seniors fell into the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole” and were forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs.  In 2010, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse successfully fought to eliminate the doughnut hole as part of the Affordable Care Act, enabling the savings they are seeing today.

The Affordable Care Act also made certain preventive services, such as annual wellness visits and mammograms, available at no out-of-pocket cost.  The new data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that over 38.9 million people on Medicare – including 146,201 in Rhode Island – received at least one free preventive service in 2014.

“The Medicare doughnut hole hit seniors hard for years,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Now they’re saving hundreds of dollars on their prescriptions and gaining access to free preventive services they used to pay for.  The Affordable Care Act is making a big difference to Rhode Island seniors.”

The doughnut hole used to expose seniors to the full cost of prescription drugs after they and their plan spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, but before they hit catastrophic coverage.  

In 2011, the Affordable Care Act began to provide Medicare recipients with a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs.  In 2013, the federal government started to increase that discount, and will continue to increase it until the doughnut hole is completely closed in 2020. 


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