Analysis of Medicare Part D shows more than 90 percent of seniors have coverage

ANN ARBOR, Mich. A University of Michigan analysis of Medicare Part D revealed that less than ten percent of older Americans are now without insurance due to the prescription drug plan, Reuters reported.

In 1998, a survey of seniors between the ages of 65 and 79 showed that 71 percent had prescription drug coverage. Michigan economists David Weir and Helen Levy reported that the number was not much higher by 2004, but in the three years following, it has grown to over 90 percent.

"The unique aspect of this study is that Part D participation can be looked at in context of income, health, Rx use, prior Rx coverage, and other factors," Weir noted. "The key findings are that Part D participation is widespread and this helped to ‘level the playing field’ in the sense that low income seniors are now just as likely to have prescription drug coverage as high-income seniors."

Confidence in the program has also risen since its original inception. "In late 2005, people expressed a lot of confusion and worry about making bad decisions. In 2006, people mostly said the decision was not very difficult and they had confidence they had made a good choice," Weir told Reuters Health.

Eighty-six percent of those interviewed in 2006 said they planned to sign up for the program again the following year and of those who didn’t, the most important factor was that they did not use enough prescription drugs to make up for the premiums and deductibles. Seniors with worse self-reported health and higher use of prescription drugs in 2004 were more likely than others to sign up, the report said.