Don't make a decision on your choice of Part D Medicare plans based on the premium and deductible alone. It's critical that you verify that your medications are covered. You find this information, and the co-payment tiers, in the formulary. On each PDP page (above) we post links to the formulary and pharmacy web pages, and the phone numbers to contact the plan.
In December 2011, Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Oreg.) jointly proposed a new premium support system. Unlike Ryan's original plan, this new system would maintain traditional Medicare as an option, and the premium support would not be tied to inflation. The spending targets in the Ryan-Wyden plan are the same as the targets included in the Affordable Care Act; it is unclear whether the plan would reduce Medicare expenditure relative to current law.
Medicare is further divided into parts A and B—Medicare Part A covers hospital (inpatient, formally admitted only), skilled nursing (only after being formally admitted for three days and not for custodial care), and hospice services; Part B covers outpatient services including some providers services while inpatient at a hospital. Part D covers self-administered prescription drugs. Part C is an alternative called Managed Medicare by the Trustees that allows patients to choose plans with at least the same benefits as Parts A and B (but most often more), often the benefits of Part D, and always an annual out of pocket spend limit which A and B lack; the beneficiary must enroll in Parts A and B first before signing up for Part C.
Medicare penalizes hospitals for readmissions. After making initial payments for hospital stays, Medicare will take back from the hospital these payments, plus a penalty of 4 to 18 times the initial payment, if an above-average number of patients from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days. These readmission penalties apply after some of the most common treatments: pneumonia, heart failure, heart attack, COPD, knee replacement, hip replacement. A study of 18 states conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that 1.8 million Medicare patients aged 65 and older were readmitted within 30 days of an initial hospital stay in 2011; the conditions with the highest readmission rates were congestive heart failure, septicemia, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchiectasis.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), administers Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), and parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ("Obamacare"). Along with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, the CMS also implements the insurance reform provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and most aspects of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as amended. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for determining Medicare eligibility, eligibility for and payment of Extra Help/Low Income Subsidy payments related to Part D Medicare, and collecting some premium payments for the Medicare program.
Currently, people with Medicare can get prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or through the standalone private prescription drug plans (PDPs) established under Medicare Part D. Each plan established its own coverage policies and independently negotiates the prices it pays to drug manufacturers. But because each plan has a much smaller coverage pool than the entire Medicare program, many argue that this system of paying for prescription drugs undermines the government's bargaining power and artificially raises the cost of drug coverage.
In most instances, prescription drug coverage is included in Medicare Advantage plans, with the exception of the MSA plan. If you want to have prescription drug coverage and you’re choosing an HMO or PPO Medicare Advantage plan, it’s important to select a plan that includes prescription coverage (most of them do), because you can’t purchase stand-alone Medicare Part D (drug coverage) if you have an HMO or PPO Advantage plan. SNPs are required to cover prescriptions. PFFS plans sometimes cover prescriptions, but if you have one that doesn’t, you can supplement it with a Medicare Part D plan.
As of 2016, 11 policies are currently sold—though few are available in all states, and some are not available at all in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Wisconsin Medicare Supplement Plans are standardized with a base and a series of riders.. These are Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, High Deductible Plan F, Plan G, Plan K, Plan L, Plan M, and Plan N. Cost is usually the only difference between Medigap policies with the same letter sold by different insurance companies. Unlike Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans have no networks, and any provider who accepts Medicare must also accept the Medicare Supplement Plan.