Medicare Discount Drug Card Savings in California: Technical Summary
Publication Date: June 2004
Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation
Author(s): Consumers Union of United States
From June 2004 through January 2006, Medicare-approved discount drug cards were available for purchase in California and throughout the country under the provisions of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. Because little information existed to assess the value of prescription drug discount cards, CHCF sponsored a Consumers Union analysis of Medicare-approved discount card savings. The results of this analysis provided concrete advice to California consumers about when these cards would be most useful. The authors conclude that many, but not all, of the Medicare-approved discount cards provided additional savings to some California Medicare consumers. Savings varied substantially among the cards, depending on the type of supplemental coverage and health status. Some consumers -- particularly those who don't spend much on drugs and have relatively comprehensive coverage such as Medigap Plan J or an HMO prescription plan that includes brand-name drugs -- were unlikely to achieve additional savings by obtaining the card. For most other consumers, especially people with traditional Medicare only and those who spent more than $1,000 on prescriptions per year, the cards were worth a close look.