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Prescription drug benefit to aid many

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ANNANDALE, Va., Nov 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Elderly people who are poor or have big drug costs will be helped significantly by the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, a study finds.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, in a study performed by Actuarial Research of Annandale, Va., said that on average people who sign up for the benefit will see their out-of-pocket drug spending decline by $465, or 37 percent, from what it would otherwise have been in 2006, to $792 from $1,257, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

But one-fourth of the people who enroll in the new program will still have higher out-of-pocket costs than if the law had never been enacted, the study found.

A spokesman for Actuarial Research estimated that 29 million of the 41 million Medicare beneficiaries would sign up for drug coverage when it becomes available in 2006.

Of this group, Mr. Mays said, 65 percent, or 19 million people, are expected to spend less on prescription drugs, and 25 percent, or 7 million people, will spend more. About 10 percent of those who enroll, or 3 million people, will see no change in out-of-pocket costs.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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