Fact Sheets


For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Contact: CMS Media Relations

A Year of Firsts
  • First time ever that a new voluntary Medicare or Medicaid benefit has helped more than a million beneficiaries in just six months.
  • First time ever that Medicare benefits match up with recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
  • First time Medicare will provide proven treatments for chronic conditions, through the new Chronic Care Improvement Program.
  • First time since 1998 that Medicare is providing substantially greater availability of coordinated-care health plans that save seniors over $700 and provide better benefits - a net big increase in beneficiaries served by Medicare Advantage plans.


By The Numbers


  • 5.8 million seniors and people with a disability are now saving billions with the drug card.
  • 1.5 million low-income beneficiaries getting $600 yearly credit toward drug costs. They can also get manufacturer-sponsored “wraparound” discounts on more than 200 brand-name drugs, enabling them to pay as little as $5 to $15 per prescription.
  • More than 16,000 beneficiaries with serious illnesses are now saving billions of dollars in drug benefits through the Medicare Replacement Drug Demonstration which helps to pay for certain drugs and biologicals that replaces drugs currently covered by Medicare Part B and can be taken by the patient at home.


Drug Card Satisfaction


  • CMS figures show drug prices remain stable.  Between late June and October, a price index for the top 100 drugs used by seniors showed an average price change of .03 percent.
  • Medicare’s “Price Compare” tool – available by phone and online – lets users focus only on the top few cards for savings.  It also includes information for low-income beneficiaries on how to get the largest savings by using manufacturer “wraparound” discounts.
  • Independent studies show drug discount cards are providing savings.  Kaiser Foundation said discounts of over 20 percent below retail prices are typically available on brand-name drugs. Consumers Union found drug card prices were typically 10 percent or more below the prices available from MediCal, the Medicaid program in California
  • Drug coverage on the cards has also remained stable, with all of the cards covering virtually all of the top 100 drugs and typically over 80 percent of all prescription drugs. Cards have not dropped coverage.
  • Independent studies also show an “overwhelming” level of satisfaction with the card for seniors who have enrolled.  Seniors generally found the enrollment process straightforward and are satisfied or very satisfied with the savings.  AARP reported that seniors generally found the cards saved money, did not have a confusing application process and they did not want to switch cards when given the opportunity.


Drug Card Sign Up


  • Signing up for a card is now possible with one phone call to 1-800-MEDICARE or a visit to www.medicare.gov.  AARP and the Access to Benefits Coalition websites also use information from the CMS website, to give beneficiaries and advocates working with them even more ways to sign up. 
  • Lower-income beneficiaries can carry over any unused part of the $600 credit on the drug card into 2005, but must sign up by December 31 in order to get this credit.


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