Fewer Medicare prescription drug plan enrollees are falling into a coverage gap known as the doughnut hole in which they bear the full cost of their prescriptions, according to a study from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

A total of 19 percent of Medicare Part D beneficiaries who did not receive low-income subsidies hit that gap in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available. That compares to 26 percent in 2007. People who receive low-income subsidies do not have to make payments in the doughnut hole.

Kaiser said the increased availability of cheaper generic drugs for some chronic conditions may be behind the drop in people hitting that coverage gap.

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