The Medicare Drug Benefit: A Prescription for Confusion

22 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2005

See all articles by Richard L. Kaplan

Richard L. Kaplan

University of Illinois College of Law


This article examines the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit that became effective on January 1, 2006. The article begins by setting forth the political development of this benefit and explaining the constraints that were imposed by the ill-fated attempt in 1988 to add prescription medications to Medicare's coverage. The article then examines the key components of the Medicare drug benefit, including its unique coverage gap known popularly as the doughnut hole, and illustrates how beneficiaries will fare depending upon their level of annual drug expenditures. After considering the program's penalty for delayed enrollment, the article analyzes the perplexing decisions that Medicare Part D presents for Medicare beneficiaries who have drug coverage from former employers, medigap insurance policies, or managed care plans. The article concludes with some perspective about the uncertainties faced by older Americans as they contemplate what their drug regimens might entail in the future.

Suggested Citation

Kaplan, Richard L., The Medicare Drug Benefit: A Prescription for Confusion. U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE06-002, Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 05-20, NAELA Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 167-186, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Richard L. Kaplan (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

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