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Differences in Part D Plans Offered to Rural and Urban Medicare Beneficiaries

O'Connor H., Henning-Smith C., Casey M., Moscovice I.

This policy brief builds on past research to analyze how the plan options available to rural and urban beneficiaries differ in terms of premiums, deductibles, and copayments, as well as differences in plan options within rural areas.

Key Findings:

  • Standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) available to beneficiaries varied little in premiums, copays, deductibles,the availability of enhanced plans, and gap coverage across urban and rural areas.
  • The average number of available Medicare Advantage Part D plans (MA-PDPs) was significantly higher in urban counties compared to more-densely populated and less-densely populated rural counties.
  • The average deductible and average premium for available MA-PDPs varied significantly among the three geographic areas. Urban areas had the lowest costs, followed by more-densely populated and less-densely populated rural areas.
  • Enhanced MA-PDPs showed more differences (e.g., in premiums, deductibles, and copayments) between more-densely populated and less-densely populated rural areas than the basic MA-PDPs.

A companion policy brief compares rural and urban Medicare beneficiaries’ satisfaction levels with Part D plans and options.

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