Medicare Part D Enters Second Year

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - Medicare Part D, the new plan to pay for senior citizens' medicines, either can ease a lot of money fears or create a whole new set of headaches!

Enrollment has re-opened.

But Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd is finding a lot of the same complaints, in the plan's second year.

Maybe freedom of choice, is buying too many choices?

The feds have sent out a book, supposed to explain it all, but it's not exactly light bed-time reading.

So here's a heads-up, on where to get help, if you're signing up or making changes.

Are you in or out?

Barbara Holt can afford to play fast and loose when chips are the only stakes.

But Medicare medicine coverage isn't penny-ante poker.

"I looked it all up," Barbara says.

"The arithmetic is complicated, you couldn't do it probably in your head, anyway," says David Holden from the Knox County Office in Aging.

"But I'm a retired teacher, I do things like that," says Barbara with a chuckle.

It means, wading through more than 70 drug plans, with widely varying deductibles and premiums. Figuring exactly how much you'd have to pay for brand-name prescriptions at full price.

"It has to be right down to the dosage. How many a month that they take, it's that specific," says Holden.

"This coming year, I will be burned by the donut hole," says Jim Hicks, who's spent a year researching the various plans.

The donut hole is what Medicare drug insurance doesn't pay.

Past the deductible, it pays three-quarters of your drug bills up to $2,250 a year, but then pays nothing, until your medicine bills top $5,100 a year.

"They're gonna make the hole smaller. But that probably means you'll have to pay a higher premium, and do the arithmetic all over again," Holden says.

Low-income folks can get their drug premiums paid or subsidized.

You can qualify if your monthly income is less than $1,225. And your flexible assets are less than $11,000.

This coming year , Barbara Holt and Jim Hicks figure they'll just let the chips fall.

"If it changes, I'll look at something else if I feel my needs aren't being met," Barbara says.

"You certainly need to go to different insurance companies, because each one of them has a different plan," Jim adds.

The Community Action Committee's Office on Aging will walk you through part d and help you crunch the numbers, or you can call Uncle Sam directly, at 1-800-MEDICARE.

You've got a real leg up if you can go online, two good sites to use are medicare.gov and benefitscheckup.org.


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