August 29, 2008, Newsletter Issue #169: Introduction to Medicare Part D

Tip of the Week

On January 1, 2006, the new Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit - Medicare Part D - went into effect and provided financial assistance for diabetics.

However, diabetics are not required to choose a Part D plan. You will need to look at your current prescription drug plan to see if you have viable options. Your current insurance carrier is required to send you a letter stating whether their coverage is equal to or better than the minimum coverage required by Medicare Part D. If the coverage does not meet the minimum requirement, you should sign up for a Part D plan, to get the most benefit from your drug coverage.

Medicare Part D plans are actually prescription drug plans sold by insurance companies. There are over 50 different plans to choose from, each offering different levels of coverage for medications and covered medical supplies, like syringes and lancets.

Medicare requires that each insurance company provide benefits as good as the government's "standard plan." This is a set of guidelines to ensure that each person receiving Medicare Part D benefits receives at least the same minimum level of care. Most offer coverage that exceeds the minimum standard, however the Plans have alot of leeway in designing their benefits, so costs and coverage will vary from plan to plan.

This is important in terms of diabetic medications, because they may pay 75% for Glucophage, but only 25% for Avandia. Diabetic medications are not inexpensive, so it is vital that you choose a plan that provides the most comprehensive coverage based on the medications that you take.

Talk to your pharmacy, Elder Law Attorney or contact our local Social Security Office to get more information about Medicare Part D and how to get signed up.

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