Key clinical point: Shifting drug coverage to Part D would save the government money.
Major finding: For patients with Medigap plans, costs could increase on as many as 40% of the drugs studied.
Study details: Researchers examined the 75 drugs with the highest Part B expenditures in 2016 and, using 2018 prices, estimated the effect of moving these drugs into the Part D prescription drug program.
Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest were reported.
Hwang TJ et al. JAMA Int Med. 2019. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.6417.
Policy analysts need to be careful and do their due diligence to ensure all consequences of the policy options are fully understood, especially as pharmaceuticals account for greater costs in the Medicare program. Future policy analyses must, like Mr. Hwang and his associates did, account for changes to Medicare costs as well as beneficiary costs to understand the overall effects of policy changes.
Francis Crosson, MD, chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, and Jon Christianson, PhD, vice chairman of MedPAC, made these comments in an accompanying editorial (JAMA Int Med. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.6146 ).