Medicare Monday: How Part D Helps Save Lives

Medicare Monday: How Part D Helps Save Lives

Allyson Funk
Allyson FunkMarch 9, 2015

Medicare Monday: How Part D Helps Save Lives.


Wall Street Journal article last month reemphasized what we’ve been discussing in our #MedicareMonday series – Medicare Part D helps save lives. The article discusses new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco that found Medicare Part D saved an estimated 19,000 to 27,000 lives in its first year alone by expanding access to medications that treat cardiovascular conditions like strokes and heart disease.

The benefits of Part D aren’t limited to those with cardiovascular diseases. As we discussed in previous #MedicareMonday posts, patients with diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and other chronic conditions and the broader health care system all benefit from participating in the program. Here’s how:

  • Part D beneficiaries who previously had limited prescription drug coverage saw a decrease of approximately $1,200 on their non-drug medical spending in the two years following Part D implementation. 
  • Beneficiaries in the program with little or no prior prescription drug coverage increased their monthly spending on medicines by $27, which was offset by a $46 decrease in monthly medical spending.
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco study, an estimated 19,000 to 27,000 more people were alive in mid-2007 because of Part D implementation in mid-2006. 
  • The study also found that assuming a year of life is worth $200,000, “the additional value of life-years gained is between $3.9 billion and $5.4 billion, which greatly exceeds the additional out-of-pocket costs for cardiovascular-related drugs of approximately $870 million. In fact, the total benefit exceeds the total estimated additional spending on cardiovascular drugs from the program of $3.8 billion.”

To learn more about how Medicare Part D is helping people live longer, health lives, continue to check back with the Catalyst for more #MedicareMondays. We also hope you’ll use the comments section below to share your stories about Part D.

Read other Medicare Monday posts.   

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