Many seniors who participate in the Medicare program struggle to pay for their prescription medications each year. With the Original Medicare system, there is a prescription drug coverage gap of $3,610 – a shockingly high figure for many individuals who are no longer earning an income that allows them to comfortably afford the cost of their medications.

However, if Democrats are able to push through their proposed healthcare bill, seniors may start to see some relief at the cash register. Democrat lawmakers supporting the healthcare bill say the bill will reduce the prescription drug gap by as much as $500 in 2010. By 2019, the gap will be eliminated altogether.  Get information on advantage plans for 2019 at

Under the current Original Medicare system, seniors have to pay $3,610 each year for their medications before their Medicare coverage kicks in. The coverage gap is often referred to as the “doughnut hole” gap – and it has caused financial hardship for many Medicare beneficiaries who have no other means to pay for their medications.

“I personally am committed to fully closing the doughnut hole once and for all,” Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor. “The legislation we will send to President Obama for signature will make good on his promise, and ours, to forever end this indefensible injustice for America’s seniors.”

Medicare supplement Plans 2019 are all well and good, but who will pay for the cost of the decreased coverage gap? According to lawmakers, pharmaceutical companies will be responsible for paying for the reduced cost to Medicare beneficiaries. Pharmaceutical companies have already pledged $80 billion towards the healthcare overhaul. With the decreased coverage gap for medications, the pharmaceutical industry will need to pick up an additional $20 billion.

In addition to picking up the tab for the reduced coverage gap, pharmaceutical companies have also offered a 50 percent price discount on brand name medications that are in the coverage gap already.

Yet, even with the 50 percent discount and $500 decrease in the gap, many seniors will still be hard-pressed to afford their prescription medications in the coming years with the large coverage gap. One solution for many Medicare beneficiaries is Medicare Supplemental insurance.

This is by no means an exhaustive analysis of what’s ahead, but it is a beginning. Still, taken to heart, it gives us inspiration to continue to provide the most excellent advice and coverage implementation to our clients and would-be clients.