(cross-posted from tpm)
The Administration released a new report yesterday that it enrolled an additional 1.9 million beneficiaries in Medicare Part D last month, bringing the total number of enrollees to around 27 million. But the many mechanisms through which seniors receive prescription drugs is deceiving, so I'm going to flush out the numbers a bit further. (I'm mostly working from this Kaiser issue brief, refer to it if you want to get really in depth.) Because while 27 million enrollees receive coverage somehow, only 7.2 million of the 22.9 million eligible to voluntarily sign up for coverage have now done so. And of the 27 million HHs is citing, only 26% of the enrollees have voluntarily signed up for stand-alone coverage. Further, the polling on Part D is getting worse.
The first thing you need to know to put these
numbers in context is that there are 43 million people eligible for
drug coverage under Medicare Part D. So with the current enrollment
numbers, around 63% of Medicare enrollees now have prescription drug
coverage coming from somewhere.*
(*somewhere is key here -- 11.1 million enrollees get their drug coverage from a source other than Medicare.)
Next, you have the "dual eligibles" (those enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid), who were automatically enrolled in a plan. There are 5.8 million dual eligibles.
Then we have the Medicare Advantage (HMO-style) plans, of which there are 5.7 million enrollees.
And the number of people receiving prescription drug coverage from their employer totals 7.6 million.
So far, the number of seniors voluntarily enrolled in Medicare Part D is 6 million people. That is barely more than the dual eligibles, the Medicare Advantage enrollees, and less than the number of retirees receiving coverage from their employer. Basically the number of those who have voluntarily signed up, versus the number of enrollees automatically enrolled or getting coverage another way represents barely a quarter of all those receiving prescription drug coverage.
And don't forget, there are a total of 22 million beneficiaries who are voluntarily eligible (read: not getting coverage by being automatically enrolled for from another source) for Medicare Part D. Another 14.8 million people still should sign up for stand alone coverage.
The Administration was quite smart to set its enrollment goals for 30 million, because now almost 75% of those receiving coverage did not sign up for a stand alone Part D plan.
Also, the polling on Medicare Part D is getting worse:
In other drug benefit news, a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds that about 44% of respondents approve of the program, while about 41% disapprove and 15% are undecided. The findings "represent a dwindling of support since December" 2005, when a survey found 45% approved of the drug benefit, 34% disapproved and 21% were undecided.
Ladies and gentlemen, we've got a long way to go...