Navigation Links
Enrollment for Medicare Drug Plans Begins Again
Date:11/14/2008

Changes since last year mean seniors should shop wisely, experts say

FRIDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- With the enrollment period for Medicare's Part D prescription drug coverage program for 2009 kicking off Nov. 15, experts are advising seniors to choose a plan carefully because premiums and covered medications can vary from plan to plan.

"As we enter the fourth year of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, we continue to see high satisfaction rates among beneficiaries and high participation among plans," Kerry Weems, acting administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement.

"However, plans do change their offerings from year to year. Some beneficiaries may see significant premium increases or changes, such as reduced coverage in the gap, if they stay in the same prescription drug plan in 2009. We encourage individual beneficiaries to review how their plans are changing and what other options are available to them to determine which plan best meets their needs," Weems said.

Paul Precht, director for policy and communications at the Medicare Rights Center, echoed that advice. "Probably the higher premiums will get some folks to look at their coverage options," he said.

"It's going to be tough for people. The premium increases are substantial," Precht added. "People are also seeing increases in the co-payments -- it comes at a tough time."

Medicare prescription drug coverage, sometimes called Part D, is insurance for seniors and some disabled people that covers both brand-name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies. Open enrollment for Part D runs until Dec. 31.

People who are satisfied with their current plan don't have to do anything to stay enrolled. But those in so-called standalone plans that only cover medications will see premiums increase by an average of $7.40 a month, from $29.89 in 2008 to $37.29 in 2009, according to Medicare officials.

Consumers should be smart when choosing a plan because premiums can vary widely, from $10.30 a month to as much as $136.80 a month. Most people should be able to find a plan in the lower premium range, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Most Part D participants who don't qualify for a low-income subsidy and who don't switch plans will see an increase in their monthly premium, according to the foundation. Twenty-seven percent will see premium increases of at least $120 per year.

Premiums aren't the only consideration when choosing a plan. Another important issue is making sure the plan you choose covers the drugs you take. Covered drugs and restrictions on drugs vary from plan to plan, so it's important to review each plan before making a choice, Precht said.

One of the most serious issues in choosing a plan is the coverage gap, or so-called "doughnut hole." While in this gap in coverage, most Part D participants must pay 100 percent of their total drug costs. For most plans this will total $3,454 in 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In 2009, nearly all Part D plans have a coverage gap, but one in four plans offers limited coverage in the gap -- generally coverage for some or all generic drugs, though some plans also cover some or a few brand-name drugs, according to the foundation.

Considering the price of drugs in a plan is also important, Precht said. "There are a number of plans that charge quite a bit more for generics than other plans," he said. "Particularly for people who take multiple drugs, that can make a difference between getting in the doughnut hole or not getting in the doughnut hole."

Precht said some people use a combination of strategies to reduce their drug costs. "They rely on the cheap generics, if you can get it from some of the 'big box' stores, using Part D for brand name drugs, plus buying drugs from Canada as an option for brand-name medications," he said.

People in Part D who meet the requirements for the low-income subsidy usually aren't responsible for costs in the coverage gap. The gap was intentionally included in the plan when it was launched four years ago so costs would not exceed the limits set by Congress.

Another option for some people may be a so-called Medicare Advantage Plan. These plans cover both your medical care and prescription drugs. But before enrolling in one of these plans you may want to be sure your doctor and hospital are part of the plan you choose.

More information

For more on Medicare Part D, visit the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.



SOURCES: Paul Precht, director, Policy and Communications, Medicare Rights Center, New York City and Washington, D.C.; Kaiser Family Foundation


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Governor Rendell Announces CHIP Enrollment Clinics at Several Rite Aid Stores
2. Watson Wyatt Identifies Major Benefit Trends During Open Enrollment Season
3. RESolutions Rapid Enrollment Solutions, LLC Mobilizes Team of Regional Recruitment Specialists(TM)
4. New Online Tool Makes Enrollment in Blue Cross of California Easier
5. Neurotech Announces Completion of Enrollment of its Phase II/III Retinitis Pigmentosa and Phase II Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration Clinical Studies
6. My Medicare Matters(TM) Advises Evaluating Your Current Medicare Part D Plan During Open Enrollment
7. Northwestern University and ACORN Commence National Enrollment for Metastatic Breast Cancer Study
8. Ceregene Completes Enrollment of Phase 2 Clinical Trial for Parkinsons Disease
9. 2008 Open Enrollment for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage and Medicare Advantage Plans Begins Today
10. Medicare Rx Beneficiaries Urged to Review Changes to Their Drug Plans and Compare with Other Plans During Open Enrollment
11. Patient Enrollment Completed in Phase IIb Trial of EpiCept(TM) NP-1 in Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Apple ... care services, staged a mock evacuation of the facility as part of a disaster ... Fire Department, Echo Hose EMS and Shelton City Emergency Manager, as well as the ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... , ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s ... Alexandria Park in Milford, NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s ... The fun run is geared towards children of all ages; it is a ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... “The Journey: From the ... danger possible to save lost souls in the Philippines. “The Journey: From the Mountains ... a dedicated teacher of the Bible. She has taught all ages and currently teaches ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Planet Fitness, one of the largest and ... plans to open a flagship location in Covington, LA at 401 N. U.S. Highway ... store next to Office Depot in the Holiday Square shopping center. Its location allows ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Asante, a nationally recognized health system in ... existing home health joint venture through an agreement, effective October 1, 2017, to ... home health company with Asante, delivering clinically integrated care, for the past eight ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... -- NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in May 2017 for its highly ... designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative secondary monitor solution, ZeroWire ... support the improvement of patient outcomes, procedural efficiency, and the lowering ... ... ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... 4, 2017  South Korean-based healthcare product Development Company ... "cprCUBE" on Kickstarter. The device will educate the user ... with better efficiency compared to the dated and pricey ... on efficacy of the compression for a more informed ... goal to raise $5,000. ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... 2017  Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: ... third quarter of 2017 on Tuesday, October 24, 2017. ... day with the investment community and media to further ... call will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern time. Investors, ... webcast of the conference call through a link that ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: