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Ninety Percent of Adults Eligible For Medicare Have Drug Coverage

A study from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research finds that 90 percent of Americans age 65 and older now have prescription drug coverage, compared to more than 75 percent who were covered in 2004. And the poor are as likely to have coverage as those who are rich.

The analysis compares drug coverage in a nationally representative sample of 10,175 Americans who were interviewed both in 2004 and in 2006, when Medicare Part D was launched.

David Weir, PhD, assistant director of the institute and co-investigator of the study, says that although Part D is complex and confusing, "older Americans have been able to make good choices."

The findings were similar to those reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with roughly a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in stand-alone Part D coverage in 2006, according to the study.

The interviews are part of an ongoing Health and Retirement Study sponsored by the institute and funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Weir and his colleague, Helen Levy, were able to show that rich and poor Americans were equally likely to sign up for Part D and for private coverage, and to lack coverage. Wealthy Americans were much more likely to have employer-provided drug coverage, but poor Americans were much more likely to have drug coverage through Medicaid.

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