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Medicare announce Iowa Part D drug plans

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Medicare has announced the 2012 Part D prescription drug plans. "Iowa will once again have 33 stand alone drug plans in 2012, however the thing to understand is that the plans offered for 2012 are not the same 33 plans offered in 2011," says Kris Gross from the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

There have been several plan changes, which will impact Iowans. Two plans are no longer being sold, two new plans were added and three plans changed names. Fourteen plans show reduced premiums and 16 plans have increases. The lowest premium will be $15.10.

The Part D deductible for 2012 will be $320. The coverage gap will be reached when total drug costs (what you and the plan pay) equal $2,930. You get out of the coverage gap when your out-of-pocket drug costs equal $4,700. Once again in 2012 drug manufacturers will provide a 50% discount on covered brand name drugs in the gap. The amount you will pay for generics in the gap will be reduced from 93% to 86%. These discounts will increase each year until 2020, when the gap will no longer exist.

Some plans, which are not available in 2012 are transferring members into another plan with the same company for next year. These individuals will be notified via the Annual Notice of Change. If your plan is not transferring you into another plan you are considered to be in a non-renewing plan. You should receive a plan termination letter by October 2. You get additional time to choose a Part D plan through February 2012. Choosing a plan by December 31, 2011 however assures coverage for January 1. Read all information you receive carefully.

The other important changes you need to be aware of are found on the Medicare website. This is the only place where you can find out which of the 33 plans cover the prescription drugs you are taking, what your co-payments will be, restrictions on drugs you're taking and an estimate of your total costs for 2012.

Starting Oct. 1 you can go to www.medicare.gov and do a comparison of 2012 Medicare drug plans. SHIIP has step-by-step instructions for doing a comparison of plans on its website, www.therightcalliowa.gov . Go to the "Drug Benefits" section. If you don't use a computer, SHIIP can do a comparison for you. SHIIP is a free, confidential service of the State of Iowa. A local SHIIP counselor is available at Cherokee Regional Medical Center at (712) 225-3368, Ext. 148.

"Each year participants should do a comparison of drug plans during the annual enrollment period for the upcoming year," says Mike Otto, volunteer SHIIP Counselor at CRMC. "Plans change, premiums change, drug formularies change annually. You need to do a comparison each year to make sure you have the best plan for you in the upcoming year."

Should you choose to change plans or enroll in a plan if you missed an earlier deadline, you must enroll in the new plan between October 15 and December 7, 2011. Again, a local SHIIP counselor is available at Cherokee Regional Medical Center at (712) 225-3368, Ext. 148. They will be able to answer your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan questions and can assist you with the enrollment. If you're happy with the plan you have and what it's offering next year you don't need to do a thing.

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