Medicare’s 55th anniversary: Celebrating the success of Part D

Tom Wilbur
Tom Wilbur July 30, 2020

Medicare’s 55th anniversary: Celebrating the success of Part D.

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Today, we are excited to bring you a special edition of our Medicare Catalyst series in honor of Medicare’s 55th anniversary. On this date in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs. To celebrate this milestone, let’s take a closer look at the success of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, also known as Part D, over the years.  

Formally implemented in 2006, Part D provides affordable prescription drug coverage to seniors and people living with disabilities. The unique, market-based structure of the program has helped to promote private-sector competition and keep overall program costs far below initial projections, coming in at nearly $350 billion less than the Congressional Budget Office’s initial 10-year estimate.

Here’s a closer look at the program by the numbers:

  • More than 45 million Americans are enrolled in Part D today, helping them access the prescription medicines they need.
  • Nationwide, Part D beneficiaries have the option to choose from more than 900 stand-alone prescription drug plans. The large number of plan options means more opportunities for beneficiaries to find a plan that works best for them.

  • One study found that life expectancy for beneficiaries has increased by 3.3 years since the implementation of Part D. Another study found that mortality rates for the elderly have decreased every year since the Part D program was implemented in 2006. 
  • In 2019, the weighted average monthly Part D premium was $39.63, a 4% reduction (-$1.61) from 2018. The program has consistently provided stable premiums to beneficiaries.
  • The latest Medicare Trustees report found that generic drugs represented about 87 percent of all Part D medicines dispensed in 2019.

Check back here over the coming weeks for more information about Medicare Part D’s impact and considerations for how Congress can continue to improve the program for beneficiaries.

In the meantime, learn more at PhRMA.org/PartD.

Topics: Part D, Medicare