The 50% Medicare Part D prescription drug "donut hole" discount may have saved enrollees who reached the hole an average of about $604 in 2011.
Analysts in the office of the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have published that estimate in a commentary written to win support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
The donut hole is a money-saving Part D program provision that creates a gap between the spending level at which everyday prescription coverage ends and the level at which catastrophic coverage begins.
PPACA includes a provision that is supposed to phase out the donut hole.
The provision required drug manufacturers to give Medicare enrollees in the donut hole a 50% discount on covered brand-name drugs in 2011.
The enrollees received a total of $2.1 billion in donut hole discounts in 2011, the analysts report.
This year, the average donut hole discount could increase to $643 per enrollee who reaches the hole, the analysts estimate.
SMALL NETWORKS ARE BEAUTIFUL
Health Net Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif. (NYSE:HNT), is reporting $60 million in net income for the fourth quarter of 2011 on $2.8 billion in revenue, compared with $80 million in net income on $3.4 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2010.
The company ended the year providing or administering major medical coverage for 6 million people, about as many as it was covering a year earlier.
Enrollment in "tailored network products" increased 35%, to 428,000, as customers sought to cut costs while continuing to offer strong benefits, according to Jim Woys, the chief operating officer.
IN THE NORTHWEST
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services reports lower-than-expected claims helped hold the average annual increase in the small group health insurance market to 6.6% in 2011, down from about 12% in 2010.
Starting this month, the department will stream health insurance rate increase hearings live, at http://www.oregonhealthrates.org.