Medicare prescription drug coverage basics outlined
Editor's Note: Medicare prescription drug coverage is a topic currently on the minds of many senior citizens and pharmacists. Some are finding the new program confusing. We offer this basic information from www.medicare.gov to assist those who are looking into the program. Watch for further information in future Healthtalk columns.
What is Medicare prescription drug coverage?
Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance that covers both brand-name and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies in your area. Medicare prescription drug coverage provides protection for people who have very high drug costs.
Who can get Medicare prescription drug coverage?
Everyone with Medicare is eligible for this coverage, regardless of income and resources, health status, or current prescription expenses.
When can I get Medicare prescription drug coverage?
You may sign up from November 15, 2005 to May 15, 2006. If you join by December 31, 2005, your coverage will start January 1, 2006, and you won't miss a day of coverage. If you don't sign up when you are first eligible or by May 15, 2006, you may pay a penalty. Your next opportunity to enroll is from November 15, 2006 to December 31, 2006.
How does Medicare prescription drug coverage work?
Your decision about Medicare prescription drug coverage depends on the kind of health care coverage you have now. There are two ways to get Medicare prescription drug coverage. You can join a Medicare prescription drug plan or you can join a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare Health Plans that offer drug coverage.
Whatever plan you choose, Medicare drug coverage will help you by covering brand-name and generic drugs at pharmacies that are convenient for you.
Like other insurance, if you join, you will pay a monthly premium, which varies by plan, and a yearly deductible (no more than $250 in 2006). You will also pay a part of the cost of your prescriptions, including a copayment or coinsurance. Costs will vary depending on which drug plan you choose. Some plans may offer more coverage and additional drugs for a higher monthly premium. If you have limited income and resources, and you qualify for extra help, you may not have to pay a premium or deductible. You can apply or get more information about the extra help by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting www.socialsecurity.gov.
Why should I get Medicare prescription drug coverage?
Medicare prescription drug coverage provides greater peace of mind by protecting you from unexpected drug expenses. Even if you don't use a lot of prescription drugs now, you should still consider joining. As we age, most people need prescription drugs to stay healthy. For most people, joining now means protecting yourself from unexpected prescription drug bills in the future.
What if I have a limited income and resources?
There is extra help for people with limited income and resources. Almost 1 in 3 people with Medicare will qualify for extra help and Medicare will pay for almost all of their prescription drug costs. You can apply or get more information about the extra help by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting www.socialsecurity.gov.