The Cost of Enbrel and Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D has been a blessing for many senior citizens who are on a fixed income and have a limited budget to spend on prescription medications. The Medicare Part D gap in coverage for those seniors who have a lasting illness, can be tough realization. At this time of year you hear a lot of talk regarding the donut hole or coverage gap. Why is it there, what is it, and how does it work? Medicare?s Part D cost was reduced by creating the coverage gap. Each year, a limit for Part D is determined. The annual amount in 2007 was $2400. The yearly amount was increased in 2008 to $2510. The amount is $2700 in 2009. The total dollar amount of the prescription drugs that you receive is how the amount is determined. This includes your co-pays and what the insurance company pays. For instance, if a dr Anything Goes Diet Review ug is priced at $850 and the recipient pays $150 and the insurance company pays $700, the amount that is applied toward the yearly amount is the full $850. When you are in the donut hole, you must pay for the cost all of your drugs. While in the donut hole or coverage gap, several Medicare Part D plans will offer limited coverage for generics. The cost of most generics is so low that the benefit of having them covered by a plan is not that much of a benefit. Everyone?s situation varies so for some patients it might be worth it to have coverage for their generic drugs. The donut hole or coverage gap can be reached in a matter of months by Medicare people with chronic illnesses which often require high priced medications for treatment. We have seen patients reach the donut hole as early as February.
Video: Medicare Part D and Prescription Drugs
Annual Enrollment Starts October 15 and Ends December 7 for Medicare Part C & Part D Plans
Note that there are additional enrollment periods available when someone first becomes eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan and a Part D plan. These periods are known as the Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP) for MA plans (see, e.g., §30.2, Chapter 2 of the Medicare Managed Care Manual), and the Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) for Part D (see, e.g., §30.1, Chapter 3 of the Medicare Prescription Drug Manual). There are also separate enrollment periods relating to enrolling in Part B of Medicare, including the Part B Initial Enrollment Period (IEP), General Enrollment Period (GEP) and Special Enrollment Period (SEP) (see, generally, Chapter 2 of the Medicare General Information, Eligibility and Entitlement Manual (CMS Pub 100-01) at:
What Does Medicare Part D Cover?
When medically necessary to prevent illness, all commercially-available vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine, must be covered, either by Part B or by your Part D provider. However, the drugs you get in places such as an emergency room are not covered by Part B. Many times, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for these drugs and then present a claim to your provider.
Important Information Surrounding Medicare Plans and Coverage
Many insurance companies offer to explain the different Medigap policies but it is best to find assistance from a company that looks into each situation and explores the options and costs associated through many different insurance agencies. The coverage is completely regulated by the government so the plans consist of the same coverage the differences will come in service and cost from different insurance agencies. A company such as Senior Health Direct which is web based can offer assistance and free information on Medicare and Medigap Supplemental Insurance Plans. Another source of information that can be easily accessed through Internet is the Medicare government’s site.
News from Monroe County Area Agency on Aging
In 2012, the Affordable Care Act requires Part D enrollees whose taxable income is less than $85,000 for a single person and less than $170,000 for a married person to pay an income related adjustment to Medicare. Beneficiaries with higher income levels can pay as much as an additional $66.40 per month.
Annual Enrollment Starts October 15 and Ends December 7 for …
The original Medicare program has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance), and Part B (Medical Insurance). Only a few special cases exist where prescription drugs are covered by original Medicare, but as of January 2006, Medicare Part D provides more comprehensive drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Medicare Part C, are another way for beneficiaries to receive their Part A, B and D benefits. All Medicare benefits are subject to medical necessity. Part A: Hospital Insurance Part A covers inpatient hospital stays (at least overnight), including semiprivate room, food, tests, and doctor’s fees. Part A covers brief stays for convalescence in a skilled nursing facility if certain criteria are met: 1. A preceding hospital stay must be at least three days, three midnights, not counting the discharge date. 2. The nursing home stay must be for something diagnosed during the hospital stay or for the main cause of hospital stay. 3. If the patient is not receiving rehabilitation but has some other ailment that requires skilled nursing supervision then the nursing home stay would be covered. 4. The care being rendered by the nursing home must be skilled. Medicare part A does not pay for custodial, non-skilled, or long-term care activities, including activities of daily living (ADL) such as personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, etc. The maximum length of stay that Medicare Part A will cover in a skilled nursing facility per ailment is 100 days. The first 20 days would be paid for in full by Medicare with the remaining 80 days requiring a co-payment (as of 2009, $133.50 per day). Many insurance companies have a provision for skilled nursing care in the policies they sell. If a beneficiary uses some portion of their Part A benefit and then goes at least 60 days without receiving facility-based skilled services, the 100-day clock is reset and the person qualifies for a new 100-day benefit period. Part B: Medical Insurance Part B medical insurance helps pay for some services and products not covered by Part A, generally on an outpatient basis. Part B is optional and may be deferred if the beneficiary or their spouse is still actively working. There is a lifetime penalty (10% per year) imposed for not enrolling in Part B unless actively working. Part B coverage includes physician and nursing services, x-rays, laboratory and diagnostic tests, influenza and pneumonia vaccinations, blood transfusions, renal dialysis, outpatient hospital procedures, limited ambulance transportation, immunosuppressive drugs for organ transplant recipients, chemotherapy, hormonal treatments such as Lupron, and other outpatient medical treatments administered in a doctor’s office. Medication administration is covered under Part B only if it is administered by the physician during an office visit. Part B also helps with durable medical equipment (DME), including canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters for those with mobility impairments. Prosthetic devices such as artificial limbs and breast prosthesis following mastectomy, as well as one pair of eyeglasses following cataract surgery, and oxygen for home use is also covered. Complex rules are used to manage the benefit, and advisories are periodically issued which describe coverage criteria. On the national level these advisories are issued by CMS, and are known as National Coverage Determinations (NCD). Local Coverage Determinations (LCD) only apply within the multi-state area managed by a specific regional Medicare Part B contractor, and Local Medical Review Policies (LMRP) were superseded by LCDs in 2003. Coverage information is also located in the CMS Internet-Only Manuals (IOM), the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the Social Security Act, and the Federal Register. Part C: Medicare Advantage plans With the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Medicare beneficiaries were given the option to receive their Medicare benefits through private health insurance plans, instead of through the original Medicare plan (Parts A and B). These programs were known as “Medicare+Choice” or “Part C” plans. Pursuant to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, “Medicare+Choice” plans were made more attractive to Medicare beneficiaries by the addition of prescription drug coverage and became known as “Medicare Advantage” (MA) plans. Traditional or “fee-for-service” Medicare has a standard benefit package that covers medically necessary care members can receive from nearly any hospital or doctor in the country. For people who choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage health plan, Medicare pays the private health plan a capitated rate, or a set amount, every month for each member. Members typically also pay a monthly premium in addition to the Medicare Part B premium to cover items not covered by traditional Medicare (Parts A & B), such as prescription drugs, dental care, vision care and gym or health club memberships. In exchange for these extra benefits, enrollees may be limited in the providers they can receive services from without paying extra. Typically, the plans have a “network” of providers that patients can use. Going outside that network may require permission or extra fees. Medicare Advantage plans are required to offer coverage that meets or exceeds the standards set by the original Medicare program, but they do not have to cover every benefit in the same way. If a plan chooses to pay less than Medicare for some benefits, like skilled nursing facility care, the savings may be passed along to consumers by offering lower copayments for doctor visits. Medicare Advantage plans use a portion of the payments they receive from the government for each enrollee to offer supplemental benefits. Some plans limit their members’ annual out-of-pocket spending on medical care, providing insurance against catastrophic costs over $5,000, for example. Many plans offer dental coverage, vision coverage and other services not covered by Medicare Parts A or B, which makes them a good value for the health care dollar, if you want to use the provider included in the plan’s network or “panel” of providers. Because the 2003 payment formulas overpay plans by 12 percent or more compared to traditional Medicare, in 2006 enrollees in Medicare Advantage Private Fee-for-Service plans were offered a net extra benefit value (the value of the additional benefits minus any additional premium) of $55.92 a month more than the traditional Medicare benefit package; enrollees in other Medicare Advantage plans were offered a net extra benefit value of $71.22 a month more. However, Medicare Advantage members receive additional coverage and medical benefits not enjoyed by traditional Medicare members, and savings generated by Medicare Advantage plans may be passed on to beneficiaries to lower their overall health care costs. Other important distinctions between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare are that Medicare Advantage health plans encourage preventive care and wellness and closely coordinate patient care. Medicare Advantage Plans that also include Part D prescription drug benefits are known as a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan or a MA-PD. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans grew from 5.4 million in 2005 to 8.2 million in 2007. Enrollment grew by an additional 800,000 during the first four months of 2008. This represents 19% of Medicare beneficiaries. A third of beneficiaries with Part D coverage are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage enrollment is higher in urban areas; the enrollment rate in urban counties is twice that in rural counties (22% vs. 10%). Almost all Medicare beneficiaries have access to at least two Medicare Advantage plans; most have access to three or more. Because of the 2003 law’s overpayments, the number of organizations offering Fee-for-Service plans has increased dramatically, from 11 in 2006 to almost 50 in 2008. Eight out of ten beneficiaries (82%) now have access to six or more Private Fee-for-Service plans. Each year many individuals disenroll from MA plans. A recent study noted that about 20 percent of enrollees report that “their most important reason for leaving was due to problems getting care.” There is some evidence that disabled beneficiaries “are more likely to experience multiple problems in managed care.” Some studies have reported that the older, poorer, and sicker persons have been less satisfied with the care they have received in MA plans. On the other hand, an analysis of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality data published by America’s Health Insurance Plans found that Medicare Advantage enrollees spent fewer days in the hospital than Fee-for-Service enrollees, were less likely to have “potentially avoidable” admissions, and had fewer re-admissions. These comparisons adjusted for age, sex and health status using the risk score used in the Medicare Advantage risk adjustment mechanism. In December 2009 the Kaiser Family Foundation published a report that rated Medicare Advantage organizations on a five star scale. The ratings were based on data from CMS, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) data, and the Health Outcomes Survey (HOS). New plans did not receive ratings, because data were not available. Almost six out of ten (59%) of MA plans did receive ratings, and these plans represented 85% of the enrollment for 2009. The average rating was 3.29 stars. Twenty-three percent of enrollees were in a plan with four or more stars; 20% were in a plan with fewer than three stars. Twenty percent of African-American and 32 percent of Hispanic Medicare Beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2006. Almost half (48%) of Medicare Advantage enrollees had incomes below $20,000, including 71% of minority enrollees. Others have reported that minority enrollment is not particularly above average. Another study has raised questions about the quality of care received by minorities in MA plans. The Government Accountability Office reported that in 2006, the plans earned profits of 6.6 percent, had overhead (sales, etc.) of 10.1 percent, and provided 83.3 percent of the revenue dollar in medical benefits. These administrative costs are far higher than traditional fee-for-service Medicare.  Part D: Prescription Drug plans Main articles: Medicare Part D and Medicare Part D coverage gap Medicare Part D went into effect on January 1, 2006. Anyone with Part A or B is eligible for Part D. It was made possible by the passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act. In order to receive this benefit, a person with Medicare must enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) or Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD). These plans are approved and regulated by the Medicare program, but are actually designed and administered by private health insurance companies. Unlike Original Medicare (Part A and B), Part D coverage is not standardized. Plans choose which drugs (or even classes of drugs) they wish to cover, at what level (or tier) they wish to cover it, and are free to choose not to cover some drugs at all. The exception to this is drugs that Medicare specifically excludes from coverage, including but not limited to benzodiazepines, cough suppressant and barbiturates. Plans that cover excluded drugs are not allowed to pass those costs on to Medicare, and plans are required to repay CMS if they are found to have billed Medicare in these cases. It should be noted again for beneficiaries who are dual-eligible (Medicare and Medicaid eligible) Medicaid may pay for drugs not covered by part D of Medicare, such as benzodiazepines, and other restricted controlled substances.
CVS Caremark To Pay $5M For Defrauding Seniors // Pharmalot
[UPDATE: "The settlement should...serve as a warning to any Medicare drug plan sponsors that have potentially misled seniors in their promotion of so-called ‘preferred pharmacy' plans," Doug Hoey, ceo of the National Community Pharmacists Association, says in a statement. "At the same time, it is regrettable that the FTC's actions fell short of more robust protections for consumers and pharmacy competition, which are warranted in our view. NCPA provided to the agency what we believe to be compelling evidence, including one-sided contract terms with pharmacy small business owners, patient privacy concerns and a lack of transparency."]
Medicare Enrollment: So What Is Medicare Part D Anyway?
Medicare Part D has a standard Medicare Part D drug benefit, but in reality plans and premiums vary widely. Health insurers must offer the standard benefit set out by law or a benefit package that is at least as comprehensive as the standard package. Although there is no standard drug formulary, there are minimal requirements that major classes of drugs necessary to treat common diseases are covered. Plans vary greatly as to the specific drugs covered and the co-pays/coinsurance for individual drugs. For more information on Medicare Part D benefits and the Donut Hole, see our article “Medicare Part D-The Donut Hole and Me”.