National Medicare Education Week: The history of Medicare Part D

Tom Wilbur
Tom Wilbur September 15, 2020

National Medicare Education Week: The history of Medicare Part D.

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Today, in honor of National Medicare Education Week, we’ll be taking a quick look back at the history of Medicare, specifically the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit .

The original Medicare program was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 and included Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). In 1997, Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, was added as a managed care option for beneficiaries. The program was later expanded to include Part D, which offered prescription drug coverage for the first time. For more than a decade, Part D has offered affordable and comprehensive prescription drug coverage to seniors and people living with disabilities.

Let’s take a closer look at some key moments in the Part D program timeline:

  • 2003: President George W. Bush signs into law the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, adding an optional prescription drug benefit known as Part D.

  • 2006: Medicare Part D plans became available; Part D can be purchased as a stand-alone plan or integrated with Medicare Advantage plans.

  • 2007: The number of Part D plan options reaches a peak, with an average of 56 plan options for beneficiaries.

  • 2016: Study finds that Part D plans receive an average 35.3 percent discount from manufacturer list prices, underscoring the substantial rebates negotiated in the program.

  • 2019: More than 45 million Americans are enrolled in Part D.

  • 2020: Part D offers more than 948 prescription drug plans across 34 regions, representing a 5% increase from 2019.

  • 2020: 92% of beneficiaries report they are satisfied with their coverage.

Check back here over the coming weeks for more information about the impact of Part D 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