Maybe it was hard to notice, but when the clock struck 12 a.m. on January 1, your health care dollars gained some new buying power. That moment marked a big step away from the so-called Donut Hole in Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) which caused enrollees to pay a bigger share for drugs once they reached a certain coverage limit.
After the Affordable Care Act began, the Donut Hole began closing and was due to close completely in 2020. Then, thanks to the signing of last year’s bipartisan budget deal, the Donut Hole for brand name drugs — generally seen as a particular hardship for seniors — was set to end with the coming of 2019; the Donut Hole’s increased costs for generic drugs will end in 2020.
The “early” ending of the coverage gap for brand names was made possible by stipulations requiring pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay more of the costs for those stuck in the coverage gap.