The savings were achieved with rebates and discounts to ease the burden of the donut hole, when patients reach certain limits that require them to pay 100 percent of their prescription drug costs.
The savings started in 2010 when people who hit the donut hole received a one-time rebate of $250. The following year seniors on Medicare received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and a 7 percent discount on generic drugs in the donut hole. This year, Medicare coverage for generic drugs in the coverage gap has risen to 14 percent.
Savings will increase over time until 2020, when the coverage gap will be closed.