Affordable Care Act closing 'doughnut hole'

March 25, 2012

In the first full year of healthcare reform, 3.6 million Medicare recipients saved $2.1 billion on prescription drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In the first full year of healthcare reform, 3.6 million Medicare recipients saved $2.1 billion on prescription drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Most of the savings came from provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aimed at closing the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug coverage. In 2010, program enrollees who hit the gap in coverage received $250 rebate checks.

Last year, the new rules gave beneficiaries a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs and a 7% discount on generics when they hit the doughnut hole-an average savings of $604 per beneficiary, according to HHS.

Drugs that lowered blood glucose accounted for the greatest savings in 2011, followed by triglyceride- and cholesterol-lowering drugs.