Seniors in the Dark About Medicare Drug Benefit

Published Online: Thursday, April 1, 2004

A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that almost 70% of elderly Medicare recipients are unaware of the program's new prescription drug benefit that President George Bush signed into law in December 2003.

Of the 237 older Americans polled, ~55% said that their impression of the drug benefit is unfavorable, compared with 17% who held a favorable impression. The remaining respondents had a neutral impression or no impression at all. Even more surprising was the percentage of respondents (73%) who knew about the Medicare drug benefit, but still had an unfavorable impression. Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the telephone survey February 5-8, 2004.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently stated that the more beneficiaries learn about the drug benefit the more they like it. Although full Medicare prescription drug benefits do not begin until 2006, recipients can expect to see the first savings through discount cards as early as April 2004.

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