Medicare Officials Report Big Savings from Rx Discount Cards

JULY 01, 2004
Ken Rankin

Seniors who sign up for one of the new Medicare drug discount cards can count on cutting their prescription drug costs by an average of several hundred dollars a year, according to a new analysis released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Government researchers comparison-shopped medication discounts offered by the dozens of Rx cards available under the new program. They concluded that, on average, seniors using these cards would save at least 10% to 17% on prescriptions filled with brand name drugs. Savings on generic prescriptions would be even larger—30% to 60%, on average, the government researchers said.

In addition, the analysis found that patients who use their Medicare-approved discount card to order prescriptions by mail will save an average of 10% to 13%, compared with Internet pharmacy prices. Although sponsors of the discount cards are authorized to charge Medicare patients an annual enrollment fee of up to $30, CMS officials said that most seniors will save more than that amount in 1 month by using the card.

"Medicare beneficiaries are above average when it comes to their drug needs, but from now on, they can be below average when it comes to the drug prices they have to pay," said CMS Administrator Mark McClellan.