The list of inefficient and costly government programs in America today is a long one. But at least one program is performing far better than expected and is costing less than anyone ever anticipated - it's Medicare Part D.
Part D's success is remarkable. It's a federal program that seniors like, it's saving them money on their medicines and it's helping them stay healthy. That means reducing their need for some of the most costly health care services like hospitalizations and nursing homes.
The simple fact is that Part D costs taxpayers far less than anyone expected. When is the last time a government program ran so efficiently and successfully?
These continued low premiums add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating how well the competitive market structure of Part D works. Over 29 million enrollees have now joined the program and more than 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have comprehensive drug coverage.
We have covered this before, but it's worth pointing out again. Recently, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
showed that Part D drug coverage reduces the nondrug medical spending of Part D beneficiaries.
The Harvard researchers found that the access and adherence to medicines driven by Part D saves Medicare about $1,200 per year in hospital, nursing home and other costs for each senior who previously lacked comprehensive prescription drug coverage. According to other experts, this finding equals about $12 billion per year in savings across Medicare.
Today's HHS announcement about premiums is for next year but it is yet one more clear sign that Medicare Part D is a model health care program that can teach us a lot about improving patient access to their medicines as well as the value of those medicines and patient adherence.
Part D's success should also make us wary of unsound policy proposals that could undermine this tremendously successful program.