As many as four out of every ten Medicare beneficiaries who do not receive low-income assistance may be at risk of hitting the Part D doughnut hole and uncovered drug costs in 2012. According to a new online survey conducted by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), 44% of respondents enrolled in Part D drug plans spent a minimum of $100 a month on deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance during the first six months of 2011. “Drug costs at that level would indicate those beneficiaries were at risk of hitting the doughnut hole or they were enrolled in a drug plan that did not cover all medications”, says Larry Hyland, TSCL Chairman.
TSCL’s survey data, and comments from 766 survey participants, indicate that many beneficiaries are enrolled in drug plans that charge high co-pays or coinsurance, or don’t cover all of their prescriptions. The financial problems are particularly devastating for people who require expensive treatments like diabetes or cancer drugs.
The following is all too typical, ” says Hyland. “It's very hard to manage when you are in the donut hole. I had to get my doctor to change my prescription from Lipitor to a generic that cost $10.00 for a 90 – day supply. In the donut hole the generic costs $16.95 for 90 – day supply, while Lipitor was $123.00. My doctor gives me samples of another drug for diabetes if he has any when I have my checkups. I think it is $200.00 a month when in the donut hole. Every year I have to get money out of my savings to help pay my bills. It will only be a couple of years till it will be gone.” — N. B, Colver, PA
TSCL urges all Medicare beneficiaries to take time to learn about changes to their drug coverage and costs for 2012. “Drug plans are making significant changes next year,” Hyland says. “Even though premiums may stay about the same, many plans are imposing new or higher deductibles and significantly higher co-pays, dropping coverage on some drugs, and kicking other drugs into higher-costing tiers,” he explains.
Now’s the time to start learning about the changes that your Medicare drug plan is making for 2012. Your chance to make changes during the Medicare fall Open Enrollment period ends early this year, on December 7th. Get unbiased help comparing drug plans from your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Contact your Area Agency on Aging. https://shiptalk.org/public/home.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f