Medicare Plan D Changes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Medicare Plan D Changes

Waterloo (KWWL) - News Release


Medicare Part D - Plans Can Change, You Can Change


Preparing a Medicare Part D check-up is just as important as a yearly check-up with your doctor. Plans can change from year to year so don't assume the plan you're happy with this year will necessarily be the best one for you in 2009. 

"Last fall approximately 80 percent of the people who compared plans with the help of State of Iowa's Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) saved money by changing plans for the next year," says Kris Gross with SHIIP.

November 15 through December 31 are key dates for a Part D check-up. During this period you can enroll in a Medicare prescription drug (Part D) plan if you missed the enrollment deadline earlier. If you already have a Part D plan you can choose to enroll in a different plan for 2009. 

The first step in your check-up should be taking a close look at any changes for 2009-the premium, the amount you will pay each time you fill a prescription and the drugs covered by each plan (called the "formulary"). "Forty-two out of the 48 plans offered increased their premiums for next year and we're seeing changes in the drugs covered so doing a comparison is important for everyone," adds Gross. 

There are several changes to the standard Part D plan for next year: 

  • The deductible will be $295, up from $275 in 2008.
  • The coverage gap, or "donut hole" will be reached when total drug costs (paid by you and the Part D plan) reaches $2,700.
  • Once your out-of-pocket drug costs reach $4,350 you'll reach Medicare's catastrophic coverage where you pay only 5% of the cost of your prescriptions.

The best tool to help with your check-up is the Medicare web site,  This site allows you to enter your prescriptions and pharmacy and get a comparison of the plans based on total annual cost.  If you don't have access to a computer you might ask a family member to help or call SHIIP. 

SHIIP is a service of the state of Iowa and offers free, confidential and objective assistance. There are five local SHIIP offices in the greater Linn County area:

  • St. Luke's Hospital, 319/369-7475
  • Heritage Agency on Aging, 319/398-5559 or 1/800-332-5934
  • Jones Regional Medical Center, 319/462-6135 ext. 6364
  • Witwer Senior Center, 319/398-3636
  • Mercy Medical Center, 319/861-7887

Each of these SHIIP offices can provide Part D comparisons by appointment through the end of the year. 

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