Medicare Open Enrollment (888) 815-3313

"A Senior Resource Center for Medicare Information"

Kaiser Family Foundation

Kaiser Family Foundation

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s website,, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License which allows for the sharing of our information with proper attribution and without alteration.

Prescription drugs are the third largest  area of U.S. health spending, and a main driver of growth. New drugs, which require significant research and development (R&D) investments, receive a period of patent protection and market exclusivity.

Medicare is the nation’s health insurance program that provides coverage to 57 million seniors and younger adults with permanent disabilities. Four issues related to Medicare have emerged during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Medicaid is the nation’s main public health insurance program for people with low incomes covering about 70 million Americans. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) set new standards for virtually all private health plans, including a prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions and a requirement for private plans to extend dependent coverage to the age of 26. 

While health care has not been central to the 2016 Presidential campaign, the election’s outcome will be a major determining factor in the country’s future health care policy. A number of issues have garnered media attention, including the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), rising prescription drug costs, and the opioid epidemic.

Medicare is most commonly known as a health insurance program for people ages 65 and older, but, since 1973, the program has also provided coverage to millions of people with permanent disabilities who are younger than age 65.1 People under age 65 qualify for Medicare after they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments for 24 months.

Each year, Medicare Advantage enrollees have the opportunity to change plans during an annual enrollment period. This opportunity is important because Medicare Advantage plans can make changes in their benefits, cost-sharing, provider networks, and premiums each year, and beneficiaries’ health needs may change from one year to the next.

The latest example of high and rising prescription drug prices to attract significant media and public attention relates to the EpiPen, an auto-injector containing the drug epinephrine which is used to reverse the effects of severe allergic reactions.