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Medicare Issues Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Drug Costs For Seniors Vary Widely Among Medicare Part D Plans

By Staff Editor
May 21, 2014 - 2:00:19 PM

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( - SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 21, 2014 -- An analysis of Medicare prescription drug plans in 50 states and DC revealed that on average the highest cost Part D plan in each state had 109% greater combined costs than the lowest cost Part D plan in the same state when using the top 50 drugs to evaluate costs.

HealthPocket examined the lists of covered drugs (i.e. formularies) for all 2014 Medicare Part D insurance plans sold in the United States to rank their drug coverage. For each of the top 50 drugs by units sold in the U.S. and for each Medicare Part D plan, HealthPocket estimated the amount a beneficiary would pay for premiums and prescriptions, and then combined the results across all 50 drugs for each plan.

Costs varied widely among prescription drug plans across the U.S. The AARP MedicareRx Preferred (PDP) plan in the state of Arizona had the lowest costs overall. In contrast, the Health Alliance Medicare Prescription Plan - Basic (PDP) in Illinois had the highest combined drug costs overall, and was 155% more expensive than the AARP plan.

The Humana Enhanced (PDP) was the lowest cost Medicare Part D plan in the most states when using the top 50 drugs to evaluate costs. The Humana plan had the lowest cost in 26 states and covered 48 of the top 50 drugs. The Aetna Medicare Rx Premier (PDP) was the highest cost Medicare Part D plan in the most states. The Aetna plan had the highest cost in 37 states and covered 41 of the top 50 drugs.

Medicare requires Part D insurance policies to cover at least two drugs in most medication categories, but which drugs are covered within each category is left to the discretion of the insurance company. Moreover the same drug covered by two different Medicare Part D plans can charge different amounts, and these differences can significantly affect the economic value of the Part D plan for beneficiaries.

"The results of HealthPocket's analysis demonstrate a compelling financial consideration for comparison shopping Medicare Part D plans. Well-known insurance brands were no guarantee of low drug costs," said Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket. "Both premiums and cost-sharing should be taken into consideration when evaluating Medicare Part D options. However, consumers should consider drug restrictions alongside costs since this can greatly affect their satisfaction with a particular drug plan."

The full results of the study "Drug Costs For Seniors Vary Widely Among Medicare Part D Plans" can be reviewed at is a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans available to an individual, family, or small business to allow consumers to make their best health plan decision and reduce their out of pocket costs. HealthPocket uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. Learn more at

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