Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

On 8 December 2003, President Bush signed the Medicare Act of 2003. One of the main features of this Act is the prescription drug benefit, giving seniors a major cost break on purchasing their doctor prescribed drugs.

Seniors that signed up have been saving money since 1 January 2006 on their prescriptions. Some are stating that it is confusing. I do not doubt that the government created a confusing program. That's what bureaucracies are good at doing. However, that does not mean people cannot figure it out. Anytime there is a government program that will take money from one group and give it to another, this latter group can figure out how to get it.

There is plenty of information out there on the prescription drug coverage program including the Medicare, White House, AARP, 60 Plus Association and Social Security Web sites.

From the Medicare Web site, Everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, will have access to prescription drug coverage. This new coverage begins on 1 January 2006. The four steps one needs to take to get Medicare prescription drug coverage are as follows:

1 - The decision to get Medicare prescription drug coverage depends on how you pay for your drugs now and how you get your Medicare coverage.

2 - There are a range of plan options available, so you can focus on the kind of coverage you prefer. There are two ways you can get your Medicare drug coverage. You can add drug coverage to the traditional Medicare plan through a stand alone prescription drug plan. Or you can get drug coverage and the rest of your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, like an HMO or PPO, that typically provides more benefits at a significantly lower cost through a network of doctors and hospitals.

3 - There are many ways to choose a plan. You may rely on advice from people you know or trust, or choose a plan you are already familiar with, or use the Landscape of Local Plans located on medicare.gov to find a plan that meets your needs.

4 - You can enroll in a plan starting 15 November 2005. Medicare will have an online Enrollment Center available on that date at www.medicare.gov. You can also enroll by calling the plan's toll free number, by mailing in an application to the plan, or by visiting the plan's website. Coverage begins January 1, 2006 if you join a plan by December 31, 2005. The deadline to enroll to get coverage next year is May 15, 2006.

This drug program is another entitlement. It adds to the budget woes and will get more expensive with time.

The biggest problem with the social drug program is the abuse that will exist. MDs prescribe too many drugs. People are over medicated.

People state they are only paying "$" for all their drugs [sic]. They may be getting a good deal but what the rest of us who are forced to pay the taxes to subsidize this addiction.

Good healthcare starts with the individual. Too many of us have punted on this duty, turning to drugs and too frequent of visits to their MD. This costs money, money they want someone else to subsidize.

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