Healthcare.gov -- David Lutz is a community pharmacist from Hummelstown, PA, and the story he tells of his customers not being able to afford their prescription medications has unfortunately been too common in communities across the nation. But the Affordable Care Act is already helping turn their difficult situation around.
For years, David says, many of his customers have come in and asked him which of their prescriptions they could skip or which pills they could cut in half. They needed to make tough choices to save money on prescription drug costs. This was especially true for seniors on fixed incomes and unable to keep up with rising health care costs. Some of them were choosing between their rent and their medicines.
"They were splitting pills, taking doses every other day, missing doses, stretching their medications," he says, noting that not taking their medications as prescribed was not good for their health.
But, according to David, this has begun to change since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The new health care law provides important relief to seniors, including a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs for those in the coverage gap known as the "donut hole." The donut hole will be closed for good by 2020.
In 2010 and 2011, more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare have saved more than $3.1 billion, or an average of about $600 per person, on prescription drugs. These savings resulted from a one-time $250 rebate check to seniors who hit the donut hole coverage gap in 2010, and the 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs in 2011. The average person with Medicare will save approximately $4,200 from 2011 to 2021, while those with high prescription drug costs will save much more.
"People cannot take their medications if they can't afford them. This [Affordable Care Act] will make them affordable and they'll take their medications on time, the way they're supposed to, which will improve their health," Lutz says. "There's no question about it."
And as seniors see their costs go down as a result of the Affordable Care Act, they are also getting new important benefits, such as free preventive services like mammograms, cancer screenings, and an annual wellness visit to sit down and talk with their doctor.
With strong tools to crack down on fraud, waste and abuse, recovering more than $4 billion in taxpayer dollars last year alone, and other efforts, the Affordable Care Act is strengthening Medicare, so that it's there also for our children and grandchildren. That's important to the peace of mind of David's customers and millions of other Americans.