As the political back and forth over Obamacare intensified this summer, it largely went overlooked that the Medicare prescription drug benefit continues to outperform expectations. In July, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the average premium for the drug benefit in 2014 would be just $31. That’s remarkable given that the average premium had held steady at $30 in the three previous years. HHS also announced that, because of very moderate spending growth in the program, the standard deductible would fall from $325 in 2013 to $310 in 2014.
Perhaps the reason that no one has taken much notice of this good news is because it has become so commonplace with the drug benefit. In December, it will have been ten years since President George W. Bush signed the new benefit into law. Very few federal programs have had such a successful first decade.