New Benefits At-a-Glance

WebMD Medical Reference

Many changes have been made to Medicare in recent years. Some changes apply now. Others will go into effect over the next few years. Here's how it breaks down:


  • Anyone enrolled in Medicare can apply for a drug discount card up through December, 2005. These can save you 10% to 25% on prescriptions.
  • You may also qualify for a credit to pay for prescriptions. Single people who make $12,919 a year or less and married couples with an annual income of $17,320 or less are eligible.
  • If you applied by March 2005, you got the full $600 credit. After that month, the later you apply, the smaller the credit. People who applied between April 1 and June 30 received a $450 credit; people who apply between July 1 and September 30 will get a $300 credit; people who apply between October 1 and December 31 will get a $150 credit. This credit can be used until May 15, 2006 or until someone signs up for a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan - whichever comes first.
  • Medicare pays for a "welcome physical checkup" when you enroll in Medicare Part B, covering office visits. You must get the checkup within six months of enrolling in Medicare.
  • Blood tests to screen for heart disease are covered for the first time. This includes cholesterol tests.
  • Tests to screen for diabetes are covered for the first time.
  • Your deductible for Medicare Part B is $110. The fee goes up every year to keep pace with inflation.

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