The M word has been in the news lately as part of all the political rhetoric flying around. Medicare and Social Security are two benefit programs that always seem to draw a lot of attention during elections; politicians all have opinions on the best way to continue to fund these programs. I don’t want to stir that hornet’s nest here; I want to talk about the part of Medicare that provides prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Part D is a public/private partnership. The government contracts with private insurance companies to provide this coverage and the private insurance companies agree to abide by the rules set forth in the Medicare contract. This contract provides a degree of protection for the consumer because Medicare is overseeing the entire process. Validated complaints against an insurance company could result in the cancellation of the Medicare contract. The contract is comprehensive including regulations on how the company can market their product to the drugs included in the formulary to the monthly premium costs, etc. These contracts can be amended yearly and this is why everyone who has a Part D insurance policy should plan to review their coverage during the open enrollment period. The coverage that you had in 2012 could be subject to change in 2013. Now I want to be clear: it may not change at all but if it does, your premium could be higher or some of your drugs might not be on the formulary of covered drugs in 2013. You need to check.
Thankfully, Medicare has made it fairly simple to review your options. The Medicare website www.medicare.gov has several pages devoted to Medicare Part D including a link entitled “Compare Drug and Health Plans”. When you click on that link, you will be asked a series of questions about where you live, what drugs you take with exact dosages etc; you should always enter more than one pharmacy for comparison’s sake as it can make a difference in the co-pays. Follow the instructions to learn which plan is best for you.
If you do not have a computer or anyone to help you with this process, RSVP can assist. The open enrollment period for Medicare Part D in 2012 is October 15—December 7. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 792-1614.
There is Extra Help with Medicare Drug Costs available through the Social Security Administration. You may qualify if you have up to $16,755 in yearly income ($22,695 for a married couple) and up to $13,070 in resources ($26,120 for a married couple). RSVP can help with the online application for this extra help. If you think you might be eligible, it is definitely worth checking out as your out-of-pocket costs can be significantly reduced through this program.
RSVP and Angels Care Home Health are partnering to host a seminar series, Answers for Senior Kansans (ASK). This series seeks to provide information about all the services available through the whole continuum of care, beginning when a person needs just a little extra help through the end of life, and how to pay for the services when needed. On Oct. 10, Lori Myers, Regional Ombudsman, will discuss local options available for persons that can no longer remain safely at home. On Oct. 24, Rick Schaffer with the Southwest Area Agency on Aging will provide information on Medicare and the services paid by Medicare. There will be two more sessions in November. All sessions are held at the Great Bend Senior Center from 9—10 a.m. Refreshments are provided by Angels Care Home Health. Call 792-1614 if you plan to attend.