Medicare Prescription Part D
Medicare Prescription, officially called Medicare Part D is a federal program to partially cover the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. It is relatively new, just started in 2006, and very controversial. There are two aspects of Part D that are confusing to a lot of people.
First, Medicare Prescription Part D is partially paid by the US government, but it is offered only through private insurance companies. Just like competing stores, each of these companies has put together different packages. Some offer more or less coverage, and may have different prices for different brands of drugs. They also may treat the Donut Hole different.
Donut Hole certainly isn’t a medical term. It refers to Medicare Prescription’s standard drug coverage. Most plans start with some coverage after a $250 deductible, typically 75% is covered and you pay 25%. Once your annual costs reach $2250, you pay all of the prescription cost until approximately $5100 when the catastrophic coverage takes over and pays most of the costs.
Only a politician could think of something as confusing as this, but the bottom line is that it’s better than nothing and substantially reduces the bills of many people. Because of the government subsidy, this coverage is a good idea for anyone who is eligible and doesn’t have private prescription insurance. Even if your current prescription costs are low, keep in mind that a chemotherapy prescription can easily top $100,000.
All of this makes choosing a plan appear to be complicated. Companies offer different plans in different areas, so use one of the online guides or comparison tools. Look for a combination of price and service. Also check out their Formulary (which drugs are covered), and, if you don’t mind paying a bit more, look at some of the companies that fill the Donut Hole by covering prescriptions that Medicare doesn’t.