Medicare Update 2005: Drug Benefits
WebMD Live Events Transcript
On Jan. 1, 2006, a new Medicare drug benefit will begin: "Part D" (as in "Drug"). Sign up for Part D coverage begins on Nov. 15, 2005. How is Part D different than the discount card you may have now? Why should you sign up? What will be covered? What will it cost and what can you save? Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, joined us on Sept. 19, 2005 and answered your questions about this new Medicare drug coverage and more.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
Welcome back to WebMD Live, Dr. McClellan. Thank you for joining us today.
In early October people with Medicare will get their Medicare and You handbook, which will provide more information about how to take advantage of this new voluntary coverage. People will also start seeing information from the prescription drug plan about the coverage they offer.
Two other important dates: in mid-October people will be able to go to medicare.org or to our link through WebMD to get specific information about the drug plan option that is best for them, based on their own needs and preferences. This is a much more personal approach to keeping Medicare coverage up to date that builds on new information technology.
Another important date is Nov. 15. That's when people can start enrolling in the drug coverage. If you already have coverage from a former employer, you should also be hearing very soon from your former employer about how your coverage will work with the new Medicare coverage.
All of this is right around the corner, and we're going to provide lots of help for people to take advantage of the new benefits.
For example, people from Louisiana with limited income who have Medicaid drug coverage now will be automatically enrolled in the Medicare coverage at no cost so that they can get benefits at a local pharmacy wherever they are on Jan. 1. Medicare will pay about $3 for every $1 that a beneficiary spends on drug coverage. In other words, 75% of the cost.
We have recent good news about the cost of the drug coverage. Because of the strong competition among drug plans, the actual cost of this coverage will be about 15% less than people had predicted. In addition, in every state in the country, there will be low-cost drug benefit options available. Premiums will often be under $20 a month and in some cases, even less. Previously people had expected the premiums to be around $37 a month for this coverage.
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