Highlights Dramatic Cost Reductions for Seniors in the Prescription Drug Coverage Gap
Nov 30 2011
WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) reminded seniors of this year's deadline for Medicare's open enrollment season, while encouraging seniors with Medicare and their families to review drug and health plan coverage options for 2012. Medicare beneficiaries will need to make their benefit elections for 2012 Medicare coverage by December 7, rather than the December 31 date of past years.
In 2012, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, additional benefits for the 150,000 Medicare enrollees in Delaware include lower prescription drug costs through a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs in the coverage gap – or "doughnut hole." A recent AP report showed that, according to Medicare's Office of the Actuary, the average beneficiary in the doughnut hole would have spent over $1,500 this year on prescriptions, but discounts and provisions in the Affordable Care Act lowered that cost to just over $900. Additionally, the health reform law provides for wellness checkups and access to certain preventive care with no copayments, a benefit that all Medicare Advantage plans will offer starting in 2012. As a result, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get free preventive screenings for heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and other chronic conditions. In 2011 alone, over 20 million Medicare beneficiaries received an annual wellness checkup or received other preventive services with no deductible or cost sharing.
"Delawareans – and especially Delaware's seniors – continue to see many benefits of the comprehensive healthcare reform legislation enacted last year," said Sen. Carper in October. "Now through December 7, Medicare beneficiaries can review and change their coverage to find the plan that will work best for them in 2012. Next year, seniors will benefit from even more comprehensive Medicare services thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Seniors with high prescription drug costs will see their financial burden greatly reduced through a 50 percent discount on covered brand name prescription drugs, and beneficiaries will be able to get wellness checkups and some preventive care without copayments. The Medicare open enrollment season is always an important time of year for Delaware seniors to make sure they are getting the best benefits Medicare has to offer."
Beneficiaries should review the 2012 Medicare & You handbook before making benefit elections for 2012. It is accessible online at http://www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf.
To protect against Medicare fraud and identity theft, during the Open Enrollment Period, beneficiaries should treat their Medicare number as they do their social security number and credit card information. People with Medicare should never give their personal information to anyone arriving at their home uninvited or making unsolicited phone calls selling Medicare-related products or services. Beneficiaries who believe they are a victim of fraud or identity theft should contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit http://www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
For more information on the Medicare open enrollment process, please click HERE.