Tag Archives: Medicare

Unaffordable Rx: 9 Ways to Save

In the U.S., prescription drug prices continue their meteoric rise. The truly outrageous increases hit the national news outlets and some result in congressional hearingsFor example, Mylan, the maker of the life-saving EpiPen allergy-reaction injector, increased the price of its two-pack from $100 in 2009 to $608 in 2016.Nitropress, a common blood pressure drug, rose more than 300%, soaring from $214 to $881 last year. On average, drug prices have doubled in the last decade, according to AARP.

Simultaneously, insurance company formularies of covered drugs have narrowed, while co-pays have increased. This double-whammy has hit older Americans the hardest, as they use more medications than any other age group. Many retirees with limited income are faced with deciding whether to spend their limited funds on needed medications or on food.

As this situation will continue to worsen in the future, it’s getting more important to find ways to obtain the medications you need at better prices. Continue reading Unaffordable Rx: 9 Ways to Save

Medicare Open Enrollment

It’s that time again—October 15 – December 7—when you can make changes in your Medicare health plan (Parts A & B or C) and prescription drug plan (Part D) for 2017. If you’re happy with your current plan, you don’t need to do anything. However, if you want to switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage, pick a different Medicare Advantage plan or change your Part D plan, you can only do so during the Open Enrollment Period.

2017 Medicare Changes

Premiums and Deductibles

The  Medicare Part B premium for new enrollees who have income of $85,000 or less is $121.80. For current enrollees the premium remains the same because there was no cost of living increase for 2016. The Part B deductible is $166 for 2017.

Coverage

Find coverage information at medicare.gov or in Medicare &You 2017, the official U.S. government Medicare handbook.

Medicare Advantage Provider Networks

Medicare Advantage Plan HMO and PPO networks change each year and sometimes during the year. If you want to keep particular doctors, make sure to check that they are still in your plan. There is a continuing trend to narrow networks, which means there is less provider choice.

Part D Pharmacies and Formularies

Which pharmacies are included in a Part D plan and which are preferred can change each year. Formularies typically change each year and sometimes during the year. Part D plans usually send out their next year’s information a month or more before Open Enrollment. Take the time to review these materials carefully for changes that effect you.

During the year, your plan may substitute one generic for another for treating the same condition. Be aware that all generics are not created equal. If a substitution occurs with a drug you take, contact the doctor who prescribed it as the new one may have different side effects than the original.

If you need an expensive drug that’s not in your formulary, visit pharmacychecker.com. This organization has a rigorous verification and certification process for finding and comparing prices of reputable, online licensed pharmacies. These foreign pharmacies, many in Canada, can legally provide a 3-month supply of branded drugs with your doctor’s prescription. The savings can be substantial. All large pharmaceutical companies have manufacturing plants in foreign locales that must meet the same FDA standards as U.S. plants. As overhead costs are much lower, the prices are also significantly lower. However, generic drugs are cheaper in the U.S. due to increased competition.

 

 

Obamacare 6 Years Later

With all the political tirades focused on Obamacare and ongoing Supreme Court filings designed to dismantle one or more provisions,  the actual achievements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been overshadowed.

Enrollment of 20 Million Previously Uninsured
As of early 2016, 20 million uninsured adults are now covered by health insurance, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. This breaks down to 17.7 million adults enrolled by the insurance exchanges and Medicaid and another 2.3 million young adults, aged 19 to 25 years, able to remain on a parent’s plan until age 26.

The overall uninsured rate has been reduced by nearly half in the last 4 years, from 20.3% in 2012 to the current 11.5%.  All ethnic groups have benefited. Hispanic uninsureds have decreased from 41.8% to 30.5%, Blacks from 22.4% to 10.6% and Whites from 14.3% to 7%.

Majority of Americans Deny They Benefit From ACA
What many don’t realize, says Drew Altman, CEO of the noted health research organization, the Kaiser Family Foundation, is  that those with insurance exchange coverage are just a small portion of the total U.S. population that has health insurance coverage. In contrast Continue reading Obamacare 6 Years Later

2016 Medicare and ACA Enrollment Deadlines

It’s that time of year again. If you obtain your healthcare insurance from your employer, you will be presented with open enrollment choices. As in previous years, the trend continues, with the employee portion of the premium typically increasing. People with coverage by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) are also in the fall/winter enrollment period. Continue reading 2016 Medicare and ACA Enrollment Deadlines