More news about Medicare -- and then some more
I bring you some details about the Medicare Part D drug program for 2014. Enrollment started October 15th and will continue until Dec. 7, 2014.
The lowest premium is $12.50 per month but there is a deductible of $310 with that plan, which you must pay before the insurance kicks in. There are 25 different plans with the prices for the monthly premium running from the aforementioned $12.50 up to $136.
You can see a chart of the Alaska Medicare Part D plans for 2014 on page 10 of the November issue of Senior Voice. Most of the plans have no coverage during the “doughnut hole” gap, which begins after you and your plan have spent $2,850. During the gap, you will have to pay 47.5 percent of the cost of a name brand drug and 72 percent of the cost of a generic drug.
Some of the discount stores sell some generics for $4, so it would be expedient to call around and see if any of your medications are available at that price. In that case, you can just buy your medications with a separate prescription from your doctor without putting it on your plan. This will keep you from getting into the doughnut hole gap too quickly.
Remember, even if you liked the plan you were on this year, everything will be changed for 2014. The formularies (the list of drugs carried by the plan) may be different. If your drug is not on the formulary, you will have to pay the full cost for that drug. There may also be some restrictions added to the plan you had.
Therefore it is very important that you check your plan since you will not be able to opt out of that plan after December 7, when enrollment ends.
As always, I will be available to help you choose your plans. Please make an appointment with me by calling 276-1059 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you are able to use a computer, go to http://www.benefitscheckup.org before you do anything else to see what benefits you may be eligible for.
If you qualify for Extra Help, your monthly premiums and the cost for your meds will be less than stated above. The Alaska 2013 limits for Extra Help are $1,793.75 per month for a single person and $2,422.50 per month for a couple. The Alaska Asset Limit for Extra Help is $13,300 for a single and $26,580 for a couple.
Save money on Part B
Another program that helps with Medicare costs is the Medicare Savings Program. You must be eligible for Medicare Part A to apply. This pays for your Part B premium. There are two different plans:
• SLMB (Specified Low Income) pays for Part B premiums and the income limits are $1,455.00 monthly for a single and $1,958 monthly for a couple.
• QI (Qualifying Individual) pays for Medicare Part B premium only and the income limits are $1,635 monthly for a single and $3,31 monthly for a couple.
The 2013 assset limits for the Medicare Savings Program (called Medicare Buy-In in Alaska) are $7,080 for a single and $10,520 for a couple.
You can apply for these benefits at your local public assistance office. If you are not sure that you are eligible, apply anyway. Let the eligibility technicians tell you whether or not you are eligible.
If you live in any other state, the income and asset limits will be different. To my readers in other states, I advise you to check http://www.medicare.gov on the Web or if you are not able to do this yourself, get some help from your local Medicare Information office or call 1-800-Medicare (633-4273).
Affordable Care Act insurance “marketplace”
If you are on Medicare, Medicaid, TRI/CARE or have any other health insurance, you do not have to do anything about the health care marketplace. It is only for people who do not have any health insurance.
Although we know there were many computer glitches on the HealthCare website, you can still enroll by telephone. There are still many more weeks to go until the open enrolment period ends in March 2014. This has only been a computer glitch and it does not change anything in the Affordable Care Act. Some of the states, like California and New York, that have opted to do their own health care marketplace websites, have been very successful and many people in those states will be getting their insurance on Jan. 1, 2014.
Rita Hatch volunteers for Older Persons Action Group’s Medicare Information and Referral Program. Call her at 276-1059 or toll-free statewide at 1-800-478-1059. Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.