A new report shows that fewer Medicare beneficiaries are being caught in the Medicare “doughnut hole,” a coverage gap in which patients are responsible for the full cost of their prescription drugs after changes that were brought about by the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The Kaiser Family Foundation study found that in 2009 only 19 percent of beneficiaries fell into the doughnut hole, while in 2007 some 26 percent had reached the gap. Kaiser attributes the decline to the wider availability of generic drugs.

This year, drug makers offered a 50 percent discount on brand-name pharmaceuticals, lessening even further the burden of drug costs on seniors. (The Kaiser study examined beneficiaries’ spending before the advent of this discount.)

The study also showed that most Medicare drug plans do not provide additional coverage for beneficiaries falling into the doughnut hole, and of those that do, most provide coverage only for generics.

For more on the doughnut hole, see: