Medicare Part D outlines the minimum requirements for prescription drug coverage plan, provided by private insurance companies.
If you have prior prescription drug coverage, your providing company is required to notify you whether their coverage is equal to or better than Medicare D. If their coverage does not meet the minimum standard you may need to sign up for Part D drug plan.
Here are key considerations when choosing a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan:
1. Does the plan cover the prescription
medications that you take?
Each Plan has a formulary - a list of
medications that they will cover, at
varying costs. Before you sign up for a
Part D plan, you need to check your
medications against the formulary, to
ensure that your medications are covered.
2. How much will the Part D cover?
All of the Part D plans use a tiering
system to determine how much of each
medication that they will pay for.
Generally, the older less costly
medications are covered more than the
newer more expensive medications. Check
out what your out-of-pocket expense is
going to be, for each of your
medications, before you sign up for Plan.
3. What is the cost of a Part D Plan?
Since the companies providing the Part D
Drug plans are private insurance
companies, the costs will vary from
company to company, and can include a
deductible. In general, the Plans
charging a deductive tend to have a
lower monthly premium, so you need to
add up the annual cost of your
medications, including the premiums and
deductible to find the most cost-
effective Plan for you. The Government
website "Medicare.Gov" has a program to
help you compare Prescription Drug Plans.
4. What about people who cannot afford to
pay for a Part D plan?
There is assistance available for low-
income persons with little savings or
assets. They may qualify for reduced or
eliminated premiums based on their
income. You will need to apply for this
assistance, and the form is available
through your local Social Security
5. When do I have to sign up for a Plan?
You have until May 15, 2006 to sign up
for plan. After that date, if you
choose to sign up, you will be charged
an additional penalty of 1% for every
month that you delay. This is a
lifetime penalty that you will pay, on
top of your usual monthly premium.
The exception to this: If you do have a
Prescription Drug Plan that is equal to
or better than Medicare Part D, and they
have sent you a letter to this effect,
KEEP THE LETTER! If at some point, in
the future, your current coverage lapses
or changes, this letter will save you
from paying the penalty as long as there
is no gap in your transition for your
private insurance carrier to Medicare D.
Confusing? It can be, but your local Social Security Office, the Medicare.Gov website, an Elder Law Attorney or other professional versed in Medicare D can help you make the right choice in a Medicare D Prescription Drug Plan.
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