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
- Anyone enrolled in Medicare can apply for a drug
discount card up through December, 2005. These can save you 10% to 25% on
- 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
Medicare Advantage (formerly Medicare + Choice)
will include preferred provider plans, in addition to managed care health
plans. Most Medicare Advantage plans will also provide prescription drug
- People in traditional Medicare will choose a drug
insurance plan from the companies offering insurance in your area.
- Premiums for drug insurance will cost about $32 per
month. Of the first $2,250 in drug costs, you pay the first $250 as a
deductible and 25% of the remaining $2,000.
- You pay 100% of the next $2,850 in drug costs.
- After you have paid a total of $3,600 in drug
costs, you pay only either 5% for brand name drugs
or $2 per prescription for generic drugs.
- Fees may be waived or reduced for single
people whose incomes are less than $14,355 a year
and assets are $11,500 or less and for couples whose
joint income is less than $19,245 and whose assets
are $23,000 or less.
Monthly premiums for Medicare Part B will go up for
single people making $80,000 or more a year, and married
couples making $160,000 or more a year. Rates are based
on a sliding scale, and will be phased in over five
years. For example, if you make more than $200,000 a
year as an individual -- or more than $400,000 as a
couple -- you would pay 80% of your costs. At present
everyone pays 25% of costs no matter what their income.
Reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD, August 2005.
SOURCES: Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services. Medicare.gov web site. National Council on the Aging web site.
© 2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
For additional Medicare information, please read the following
Last Editorial Review: 12/9/2005