Medicare Part D 2010 – Closing the “Donut Hole”

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With the recent passage of The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and Signed by President Obama in 2010, one of the new benefits for Medicare Part D beneficiaries will be more affordable prescription drugs and over the next 10 years the bill closes the “donut hole.”

As I have said before Medicare Part D is the “best” prescription drug plan for people on Medicare, because it’s the only plan and offers some assistance.  If you don’t have a chronic condition, then it’s a great plan.

But many people because of their health condition are required to take numerous prescription medications and some can be quite costly forcing them into the “donut hole” early in the year. When they reach the “donut hole” they are required to pay, in some instances, thousands of dollars out of their own pocket for their medications.

The sad part over the last few years, many seniors have opted out of taking their medications because it’s too expensive.  Here’s how the Affordable Care Act is going to help.

$250 Reimbursement for 2010

During 2010, Medicare will be working with your Part D providers and when you reach the “donut hole”  you  will receive a one-time $250 rebate check.  If you are already receiving Medicare Extra Help, you will not be entitled to the rebate.  Checks will start being mailed out sometime in June and continue for the remainder of the year.

50% Discount in 2011

During 2011 when you reach the “donut hole” you will receive a 50% discount on Part D covered brand-named prescription drugs.

Around May 1st, Medicare released what the Medicare Part D Plan will look like in 2011:

  • Initial Deductible - $310 (unchanged)
  • Coverage Amount: $2,840 – a $10 increase over 2010 ($2,830)
  • Out-of- Pocket costs, including the donut hole - $4,550 (unchanged)
  • Catastrophic Co-payments
    • Generic drugs - $2.50 – (unchanged)
    • Other drugs - $6.30 – (unchanged)

Beyond 2010

Closing the “donut hole” will take 10 years. Each and every year there will be additional savings until it’s closed in 2020.

If you are looking for more information on the new law, you can visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).  Don’t forget your State Health Insurance Assistant program (SHIP) or call Medicare to get your State’s telephone number.  TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

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