MEDIA WATCH: Medicare cards get unhealthy reaction

Questionable benefits, long phone waits, and a confusing website were blamed for the lack of interest in the new Medicare cards, put into effect June 1.

Questionable benefits, long phone waits, and a confusing website were blamed for the lack of interest in the new Medicare cards, put into effect June 1.

Seniors lamented the program's complexity, with 73 cards to pick from and fluctuating drug prices. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson defended the cards, noting discounts of 20%-50% for most drugs. Regardless, many seniors stated that they'd continue to get cheap drugs in other ways, including traveling to Canada.

Most frequent messages

1. The benefits of the new Medicare cards are questionable

2. It's too confusing to figure out if the cards have benefits

3. This is a stopgap measure until the Medicare plan in 2006

4. 18% off brand-name drugs and 30%-50% off generics

5. There are better ways to get discounted or free drugs

Based on 38 reports in the top 50 US newspapers appearing May 25 - June 2, 2004

Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International

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