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Medicare drug gap risk may have shrunk

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Changes in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program should sharply reduce the risk that enrollees will hit the dreaded “donut hole” coverage gap this year.

Analysts at eHealth Inc. (Nasdaq:EHTH), a Web health insurance broker, looked at Medicare drug plan users who use eHealth Medicare sites.

The analysts are estimating that only 9 percent of the users will end up with total annual drug costs this year that exceed the coverage limit for ordinary prescription expenses but are too low to qualify for catastrophic coverage.

A year ago, the analysts were estimating that 33 percent of eHealth site Medicare drug plan enrollees would hit the coverage donut hole.

This year, the coverage gap starts at $2,970.

Provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) are supposed to eliminate the gap between now and 2020.

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