How Medicare beneficiaries spend money on drugs

Medicare seems to be a world where what’s in flux is constantly colliding with what’s locked in. HMOs scurry to escape locked-in federal capitation rates that health plans consider too low. On the fee-for-service side, the ever-fluctuating prices of pharmaceuticals collide with the locked-in, fixed incomes of the elderly.

The Kaiser Family Foundation notes that Medicare beneficiaries account for 14 percent of the U.S. population, but for 43 percent of the nation’s spending on prescription drugs. Thirteen percent of beneficiaries had to pay $2,000 or more out of pocket in 2001.

What Medicare beneficiaries spent on prescription drugs, 2001

*Because of rounding, figures do not add to 100 percent.


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