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Study Shows Only Two in Ten Beneficiaries Expect to Enroll in the New Medicare Drug Benefit Program in 2006

LIVONIA, Mich., July 12 /PRNewswire/ -- A newly-released study conducted by Market Strategies, Inc. (MSI), indicates that only two in ten beneficiaries expect to enroll in the new Medicare drug benefit program in 2006, in spite of the huge financial and information investment by the government, AARP and other supporters of the legislation.

Market Strategies, Inc., one of the nation's leading market research firms specializing in the healthcare industry, released the findings from its latest MSInsight™ research, The Prescription Drug and Medicare Modernization Act: Beneficiary Awareness, Perceptions and Actions. This study is the first of four waves of research that will be conducted through 2004 and 2005 to understand consumer awareness and attitudes regarding the new Medicare legislation and project the likely impact in terms of participation and benefit.

"Unlike other studies that typically survey the general population, MSI surveyed 1,500 seniors, the population segment most immediately impacted by the legislation's provisions," said Jan Brown, founder and Principal of Market Strategies, Inc. "The study is designed to provide the latest information on beneficiary attitudes about the law, as well as factors influencing decision- making with respect to participation and selection of the drug card, the drug benefit program and participation in a Medicare Advantage plan. The analytical design of the study allows the data to be cut by characteristics such as income, disease, current prescription drug use, drug coverage, and current medical coverage."

This first wave of research shows: -- The overwhelming number of beneficiaries who are aware of the legislation but the limited number who understand its provisions -- The extent to which beneficiaries do not believe in the intended benefit of the legislation -- Which segments of the beneficiary population oppose or support the legislation and why -- Which segments are likely to make specific choices regarding the new Medicare Drug Discount Card and ultimately participate in the full drug benefit as well as a Medicare Advantage plan Among the findings: -- 84% of Medicare beneficiaries are aware of the new Medicare reform legislation, but most are not familiar with the specific provisions. -- Beneficiaries who are aware of the legislation are less likely to believe it will provide them with better coverage. -- There is a strong correlation between those beneficiaries who will purchase a Medicare Discount Drug Card (MDDC) and those that intend to enroll in the drug benefit in 2006. -- Beneficiaries do not recognize that the legislation contains changes in managed care offerings. -- More than two-thirds disapprove of the legislation because they do not believe it will improve their current drug coverage; many beneficiaries in this group believe the legislation will not reduce prescription drug or healthcare costs. -- Those who are college-educated are significantly more dissatisfied with the new coverage provisions than those who are not. -- Those who are currently purchasing drugs from Canada and other countries believe that importation will have greater impact on lowering drug costs than the new MDDC. -- The media is currently driving perceptions and understanding of the new legislation, while the government and senior organizations, like AARP, are not getting their messages through to the beneficiary population.

"This research indicates serious challenges exist in educating seniors about the legislation and its benefits," said Brown. "While it appears that certain groups of seniors are likely to purchase a drug discount card and participate in the full benefit offered in 2006, the numbers are small. Given the cost of the program to the American taxpayer, the need for action among government, industry, consumer organizations, the media, and others is critical."

The second wave of the research will be conducted later in 2004; waves 3 and 4 will occur in 2005. This is the second MSInsight™ study that Market Strategies, Inc. has undertaken to help businesses understand the implications of the new Medicare legislation. The first study, The Implications of the New Medicare Legislation on the Practice of Oncology, was published in March 2004. It examined how changes in Medicare reimbursement for oncology drugs affected the treatment of patients by oncologists. Future editions of this tracking study will be published in August and December of 2004.

The first wave of The Prescription Drug and Medicare Modernization Act: Beneficiary Awareness, Perceptions and Actions study is now available from Market Strategies, Inc. For more information, contact Peter Carlin at 908.416.6222, Ellen Gordon, Ph.D., Research Director, at 734.542.7669, or send an e-mail to mma@marketstrategies.com .

About Market Strategies, Inc.

Market Strategies, Incorporated (MSI) is a full-service market research and strategic consulting firm with expertise in all facets of the healthcare industry. The company's experience and expertise in the life sciences, medical devices, hospital and health system, health insurance, and government/academic sectors provides some of the leading companies in the world with creative research solutions that are delivered with Market Strategies' outstanding client service. The MSInsight™ syndicated research series is designed to help clients make strategic and informed business decisions by applying analytical techniques to answer pressing questions in today's healthcare marketplace. For more information visit http://www.marketstrategies.com/ .

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