Do you or a loved one struggle with choosing a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage Plan that meets your needs and won’t break the bank? We see this frequently at Wagner, and understand why many are confused. We’ve invested in a technology called iMedicare to help assist!
iMedicare takes your personal medication profile, and runs a compare and contrast of your costs at various pharmacies. We can illustrate your costs monthly, annually, or even look at alternative medications that could save you money. While we can’t make the decision about what prescription insurance to choose, we can help you wade through the details and make an informed decision.
What’s best about this service? It’s FREE! Also, it’s delivered by professionals who work with Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans every single day. We’ve seen the issues, and know how to deal with them. You won’t see us just plugging your medications into iMedicare and printing you a report to interpret yourself, we’ll take the time to explain everything, and help you choose the plan that meets your needs and delivers the most value.
MEDICARE PART WHAT???
A Short Description of the Various Types of Medicare
PART A – (Hospital Insurance)*
Coverage for medically necessary:
- Home Health
- Skilled Nursing Care
- Note: Skilled nursing care facilities often offer both “skilled care” and “intermediate care”
- If deemed to be in “Skilled Care,” Medicare Part A covers costs of all care, including prescription drugs.
- If deemed to be in “Intermediate Care,” Medicare Part D covers the cost of drugs, and payment for care delivered by the nursing facility is coordinated between the resident, their family, and the facility, and there are insurances available to assist with these costs.
This coverage is free if you have worked and paid FICA taxes for at least 40 calendar quarters (10 years). If you have not worked this long and paid FICA taxes, you will pay a monthly premium for this coverage.You or your loved one will have a card that looks like the one shown below, commonly referred to the “Red, White, and Blue Card.”
PART B – (Medical Insurance)*
Coverage for medically necessary:
- Physician Services
- Outpatient services such as laboratory tests and X-rays.
- Durable Medical Equipment including Diabetic Testing Strips, Nebulizers, Wheelchairs and some Walkers, and Oxygen and associated Supplies.
- Some Vaccinations such as influenza and pneumococcal.
- Some special classes of medications, including nebulized medications, anti-organ rejection medications for those who have had a kidney or liver transplant, and some cancer medications.
The benefit requirements for Medicare Part B are the same as those illustrated for Part A, and both parts share a common card, as shown above.
PART C (Medicare Advantage Plans)*
- Medicare policy that allows private (commercial) health insurance companies to provide Medicare benefits.
- May be HMOs or PPOs
- Commonly referred to as Medicare Advantage plans (MA or MAPD)
- Medicare Advantage plans encompass and cover Medicare parts A, B, and D
Medicare Parts A and B will know if you or your loved one has enrolled in a Medicare Part C (Advantage Plan), and your Red, White, and Blue care will not work should you try to have a provider bill a claim for service provided to Medicare Part A or B.
Because there are multiple commercial providers of Medicare Advantage Plans, there is no universal card as in the case of Medicare Part A & B’s Red, White & Blue card. However, most plans have cards that appear as the example shown below, and will contain information for hospital providers, medical office providers, and pharmacies.
PART D – (Prescription Drug Insurance)*
- Provides outpatients prescription drug coverage.
- Provided only through government-contracted private insurance companies, not directly by the government. However, the government regulates these companies and dictates how they do business.
As in the case of Medicare Part C plans, there are a number of Medicare Part D Plans available. Most cards appear similarly to this example card from Medco shown above, with pharmacy info only.
The Part D standard benefit, at a minimum, plan sponsors must offer a “standard benefit” package mandated by law. The standard benefit includes an annual deductible and a gap in coverage known as the “Donut Hole.” Sponsors may also offer plans that differ from – but are actuarially equivalent to – the standard benefit. Finally, they may also offer “enhanced” plans that provide benefits in addition to the standard benefit. Typically, the enhanced plans offer some coverage during the Donut Hole. The Standard Benefit is defined in terms of the benefit structure, not the drugs that must be covered under the
In 2014, the Standard Benefit includes an initial Annual Deductible of $310 (the maximum allowed under law). This is called the Deductible Phase, or Stage 1.
After meeting the deductible the beneficiary pays 25% of the next $2,540 ($635) in formulary drugs. This is called theInitial Coverage Period or Stage 2.
Once the plan and the beneficiary have together paid the Initial Coverage Limit of $2,850 ($310 + $2,540 = $2,850), the beneficiary has a gap in coverage known as the “Donut Hole,” or Stage 3.
During the Donut Hole the beneficiary pays for 100% of the next $3,605 in formulary drugs, subject to a brand discount of 52.5% or a generic discount of 28%)
Once the beneficiary has spent a total of $4,550 in “true out-of pocket costs” (TrOOP) in formulary drugs, he/she enters the Catastrophic Coverage Period, or Stage 4.
During Stage 4 the beneficiary pays 5% of the cost for formulary drugs, or $2.55 for generics and $6.35 for brand name drugs, whichever is greater. Beneficiaries who meet the $4,550 out-of-pocket threshold remain in Stage 4 for the rest of the calendar year. The process begins over again the next year.
Medicare does not establish premium amounts for plans. Instead, premiums are established through an annual competitive bidding process and evaluated by CMS. Medicare does establish the maximum deductible amount, the Initial Coverage Limit, the TrOOP threshold and Catastrophic Coverage levels every year. The table on the following page shows the standard benefit each year from 2010 – 2013. This table is subject to change, and the most current version is always available at http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-info/medicare-part-d/#standard%20benefit. We’ve included this information for you convenience on our website, but recommend visiting this website for the most current information.
PART E, F, G, H, I, J, K, and L – (aka Medigap Coverage or Medicare Supplement)*
- Provides coverage for excess costs left over after Medicare Parts A, B, and D, have paid their agreed upon portion.
- Cannot be used with a Medicare Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C)
- Various commercial models exist, pharmacies, physicians offices, and hospitals are poor references on these plans.
Due to the complexity of Medicare, the best practice is to provide all your cards to your provider, your nursing facility, and your pharmacy, and be prepared to provide them in the event of hospitalization. Make copies of them for your loved ones should they be involved in your care.
Do not be afraid to engage your plan! Medicare is your benefit, and you pay for it, or have paid for it already while part of the workforce.
If you’ve received benefits such as physician care or prescription drugs, and the provider did not have the necessary information at the point of service, you may receive an invoice for the full cost of services. These costs can usually be dealt with retroactively, however best practice is to deal with them as soon as possible!
COORDINATION OF BENEFITS, LOW-INCOME SUBSITY, AND MEDICAID ISSUES
- It’s important to note that when Medicaid benefits are involved, the Medicare Plan, be it Part C or Part D, needs to be notified.
- For example, if a patient is strictly covered under Medicaid, their prescription drugs can be billed to Medicaid. If they become qualified for Medicare benefits, and enroll in a Medicare Part C or Part D plan, their Medicaid benefits no longer cover prescription drugs.
- This is what is known as “COORDINATION OF BENEFITS for LOW INCOME SUBSIDY” qualified patients.
- Medicare Part B is unaffected by Medicaid benefits on at the pharmacy.
OTHER COORDINATION OF BENEFITS: COUPON CARDS OR DRUG-SPECIFIC VOUCHERS
- Coupon cards are not applicable towards any remaining copayments left by any federally sponsored program, be it Medicare or Medicaid.