Medicare Part D Changes Will Simplify Plan Selection

Next year, more than three million seniors will have to switch Medicare Part D plans, thanks to new Medicare efforts that aim to make the selection process easier. Not to worry — those seniors won’t lose their coverage, and the decision-making process should be easier thanks to Medicare’s scaling efforts and offering of more focused choices by eliminating duplicate coverage, according to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). Medicare Part D

Along with the changes, of course, comes an increase in premiums, but it’s a modest increase — just three percent, or about $1, making the total monthly premium about $30 for 2011. However, Don Berwick, Medicare administrator, says in an AP interview that seniors will also benefit from better coverage, because the new health care law will begin to close the doughnut hole gap seniors currently experience in coverage.

Seniors who enter the doughnut hole gap will receive a 50% discount on brand name drugs and a 7% discount on generics, which will gradually increase until the doughnut hole disappears in the year 2020.

The number of seniors who will need to switch plans next year is just a fraction of the 27 million total beneficiaries currently enrolled in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Seniors who will need to select a new plan should be advised that the $30 monthly premium is an estimate, and that actual premiums can vary widely. Seniors should use the Medicare Plan Finder to research available plans in their areas and select the best plan for their needs based on coverage and cost.

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