Charitable assistance in Medicare Part D

A study by Avalere Health, which was sponsored by the PAN Foundation, examined trends in patient assistance provided by charitable organizations and the costs to Medicare Part D—the prescription drug benefit covering 45 million older adults and people with disabilities.

For the purpose of this study, Avalere excluded those beneficiaries who qualify for a low-income subsidy program. The study considered the impact on those who don’t have other means to subsidize their out-of-pocket costs and turn to charitable organizations for relief.

In the study, Avalere explored utilization and cost trends for 100 branded drugs, between 2014 and 2018. Over the five-year period, the data showed that:

  • Both drug costs and out-of-pocket costs increased over time, by 53 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
  • The amount of patient assistance trended down. In fact, during the same period, charitable assistance offset less than three percent of total out-of-pocket costs.

A key finding of the study was that charitable financial assistance has had no meaningful influence on gross Part D costs.