Published Online: Friday, December 1, 2006

Senior citizens enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program experienced a significant savings in their medication costs during 2006, and the cost-saving benefits from this program are likely to be even better in the coming year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a new analysis of Part D's first year. Significantly, though, CMS predicted that the biggest savings are expected to be earned by Part D participants who work with their physicians to secure generic versions of their drugs.

In many instances, beneficiaries' annual costs will actually be lower in 2007, CMS predicted. During the program's second year, "large savings will be available through a broader range of plans, especially for beneficiaries who switch to therapeutically identical generic versions of drugs," they said. Overall, CMS found that seniors enrolled in the plan enjoyed savings of 50% or more on their prescription drug expenses.

"While these percentage savings can amount to several thousand dollars or more per year, beneficiaries willing to switch to lower-cost medications such as generic drugs can save even more," the agency said. Seniors who use generic pharmaceuticals can reap cost savings of up to 87%, according to the analysis.

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