By Mark Johnson, R.CPhT, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine
In 2011 more than 2.2 million people with Medicare were able to save $1.2 billion on their prescriptions, for an average of $550 per person, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in the fall of 2011. And more than 22.6 million seniors and people with disabilities took advantage of at least one free Medicare preventive benefit, including the new Annual Wellness Visit made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
“With the Affordable Care Act, seniors are getting cheaper prescription drugs and free preventive care,” says CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD.
Under the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare can receive many preventive services at no charge, including diabetes screening, some cancer screenings and help to quit smoking.
People with Medicare across the country are also receiving cheaper prescription drugs. Because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors and people with disabilities were able receive a 50% discount on covered brand name drugs in the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the “donut hole.” The coverage gap discount is set at 50% on covered brand name drugs again in 2012. Coverage in the donut hole will progressively increase each year until the coverage gap is greatly reduced in 2020.
In addition to donut hole discounts, average premiums for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have remained virtually unchanged in 2012. Medicare also recently announced that average Medicare Advantage premiums will drop 4% in 2012. Part B premiums, which cover outpatient services including doctor visits, will only rise $3.50 per month for most beneficiaries in 2012, and some will see a decrease. These changes will be more than offset by the average Social Security cost of living increase ($43 per month for retired workers).
These are just a few of the things that have taken place with Medicare over the past year. I encourage you to ask questions on the things that you do not understand. Become as informed as you can with your Medicare benefits. Be Well and Be Well Informed.
Mark Johnson, R.CPhT, is with Axtell Rite-Value Pharmacy in Whitesboro, TX. If you have any questions for Mark, he invites you to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 903-564-3216.