Skip to content
Font Size
A
A
A

Prescription Discount Cards Latest Medicare Reform Tactic

White House to Release Broader Plan
By
WebMD Feature

July 11, 2001 (Washington) -- President George W. Bush is expected to announce a discount card plan as an immediate way of keeping prescription drug prices down for seniors. Depending on how the plan is structured, the savings could be 15% or even higher for Medicare beneficiaries.

While details were limited prior to the rollout of Bush's broader effort to restructure Medicare on Thursday, some experts believe the idea is worth watching particularly since it's worked in the private sector.

Recommended Related to Health Ins & Medicare - KY

kynect: Kentucky's Healthcare Connection Resources

Call 855-4kynect (1-855-459-6328) 5076 for information about your insurance options.

Read the kynect: Kentucky's Healthcare Connection Resources article > >

For example, Merck-Medco and The Reader's Digest Association launched a prescription drug plan two years ago. Some 40,000 drug stores participate, reportedly offering savings of up to 40%. The enrollment fee for the plan is $25 per person or $40 per household. AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, has a similar approach that yields a drug discount of about 15% for members, according to a source familiar with the program.

"The president's action adds real momentum to achieving a prescription drug benefit in Medicare," said William Novelli, executive director and CEO of AARP, in a statement. However, while the advocacy group praised the pharmacy discount card notion, Novelli said it was not a substitute for a permanent solution to the problem of escalating drug costs.

Jim Manley, press secretary to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) tells WebMD the senator says the drug discount card is just a small step toward solving the Medicare problem.

But the discount card notion is worth exploring, at least in the short run, says Robert Reischauer, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and currently the executive director of the Urban Institute.

"Symbolically, it's important. I think that the administration is saying the legislative process in this country is complex and slow, and we will try to do what we can in the meantime," he says.

One of the pluses of the discount card approach is that it could be set in motion without the political complexities of enabling legislation. However, there are some minuses, says Reischauer.

For example, younger consumers could wind up paying more for prescriptions. "We're talking about redistributing the burden, but right now it's hard to say that the distribution of the burden is equitable, when many of those who have the least ability to pay, and the most pressing need for prescription drugs, pay the highest prices," Reischauer tells WebMD.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

disciplining a boy
Types, symptoms, causes.
psoriasis
What it looks like.
fruit drinks
Eat these to think better.
No gym workout
Moves to help control blood sugar.
acupuncture needle on shoulder
10 tips to look and feel good.
Close up of eye
12 reasons you're distracted.
Epinephrine Injection using Auto-Injector Syringe
Life-threatening triggers.
woman biting a big ice cube
Habits that wreck your teeth.
embarrassed woman
Do you feel guilty after eating?
pacemaker next to xray
Treatment options.
caregiver with parent
10 tips for daily life.
birth control pills
Which kind is right for you?

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.