Medicare Part D

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Medicare Part D Drug Plan was created by Congress in 2003 to aid the elderly, disabled, and sick persons in affording their medication. Coverage for the drug plan went into affect January 1, 2006. This plan was called the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) (Cassel, 2005). The final bill that passed, was influenced by drug-company and health insurance lobbyists and focused mainly on the needs of those industries instead of the seniors it was meant to serve (Slaughter, 2006). These plans are operated by insurance companies and some private companies that have been approved by Medicare. Part D is optional only if a person carries health insurance that includes prescription coverage. If at retirement age a person has not signed up for a Medicare drug plan they will pay a penalty for the rest of their lives for signing up at a later date. My father took four prescribed drugs in 2007. One was not covered by the plan and the other three were non-generic. In 2007 my Dad paid over $3,300.00, while ‘The Plan’ paid $1940.00. Can you imagine how much he would have paid if he took 5, 7, or 10 different prescribed medications? Due to the increased cost of prescription medication he will pay more for those three non-generic drugs in 2008. Medicare’s Part D Drug Plan was created to aid the country’s older population with the cost of prescription drugs, but instead the plan increases profits for the insurance industry. Insurance companies need to work together to develop uniform guidelines and a pricing structure that is affordable to all senior citizens. How are the insurance companies involved in this prescription drug plan? Many elderly had to enroll in a plan by a swiftly selected deadline or face increased premiums each month beyond it, which clearly benefits the insurance companies. Older Americans had little time to choose among the many plans available (Slaughter, 2006). The insurance companies, which are contracted with or subsidized by Medicare, provide the coverage for prescription drug costs (Gustaitis, 2007). Just about all of these plans associated with Part D require a person to pay a yearly deductible, a monthly premium, co-payments for each prescription drug, and 100% of the drug cost while in the “gap” (Gustaitis, 2007). And the plans can change formularies whenever they want to without penalty, increasing prices on doctor prescribed drugs. As Louise Slaughter stated in her article Medicare Part D – The Product of a Broken Process in 2006, “Doctors, not insurance-company bureaucrats, should be deciding which drugs their patients need”. Because there are so many different companies involved, the plans policies and features vary greatly. The way the plan works is a person will pay a monthly premium for the drug coverage the same as they do on any insurance policy. This monthly premium is set by the insurance company that carries their plan. For this explanation the amounts used will be from the AARP MedicareRX Plan for 2007. Starting January 1 a person enrolled in this plan will pay a monthly premium of $27.40. For each prescription that is bought there is a co-pay of $28.00, unless the drug is classified in the formulary in tier 3 which has a higher co-pay. They will continue to pay only the co-pay until the total of the co-payments and the amount Medicare has paid for their medications combined reach a set total amount of $2400.00. For example, if the co-payments equal $460.00 and Medicare’s portions of the prescriptions were $1940.00, the total drug cost would be $2400.00 (aarpmedicarerx.com). This is considered the first plateau or first level reached in the plan. The second plateau or level of the plan is what the industry calls “the doughnut hole” or “gap”. While in the gap people must pay 100% of their drug costs until their out-of-pocket costs of $3850.00 is reached. Included in the $3850.00 is the $460.00 paid in co-payments and the total of all...
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