Most enrollees in the new Medicare prescription drug program seem to think that the value of the new drug benefits will justify the work that went into comparing drug plans.[@@]

Researchers at America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, have published data supporting that conclusion in a report on a survey of 400 randomly selected U.S. seniors that was conducted earlier this month.

Officials at AHIP, which hired Ayers, McHenry & Associates, Alexandria, Va., to run the survey, say the survey is the first that assesses the experience and expectations of seniors who already have enrolled in the new Medicare drug program.

Some consumer groups and news reports have focused on the difficulties seniors face when sorting through drug plan choices, but 57% of survey participants told researchers that they believe the time and effort spent on evaluating drug plan choices has been worth it, compared with only 16% who say the benefits have not justified the extra work.

About 56% of the participants said they would recommend the drug plan program, and another 24% said they might recommend the program if it works as expected.

Meanwhile, 51% believe the program will cut their prescription drug costs, and only 28% believe the program will increase their overall drug costs, AHIP says.

Researchers also found that many seniors have been making active efforts to learn more about the program: 25% have attended at least 1 drug benefit education event, and 28% have read about the program on the Web.

AHIP President Karen Ignagni says the results show that older Americans are savvy consumers.

“Seniors are confirming that having a choice of drug plans works for them,” Ignagni says.