Medicare Part D is optional prescription drug coverage. If you have Original Medicare, you can get this coverage through a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, offered through private Medicare-approved insurance companies. These plans offer stand-alone prescription drug coverage that work alongside Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. A Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan also provides the Medicare Part D benefit, covering all Medicare benefits under a single plan.
Medicare has been operated for a half century and, during that time, has undergone several changes. Since 1965, the program's provisions have expanded to include benefits for speech, physical, and chiropractic therapy in 1972. Medicare added the option of payments to health maintenance organizations (HMO) in the 1980s. As the years progressed, Congress expanded Medicare eligibility to younger people with permanent disabilities and receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and to those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The association with HMOs begun in the 1980s was formalized under President Bill Clinton in 1997 as Medicare Part C (although not all Part C health plans sponsors have to be HMOs, about 75% are). In 2003, under President George W. Bush, a Medicare program for covering almost all self administered prescription drugs was passed (and went into effect in 2006) as Medicare Part D (previously and still, professionally administered drugs such as chemotherapy but even the annual flu shot are covered under Part B).
You will pay one-half of the cost-sharing of some covered services until you reach the annual out-of-pocket limit of $5240 each calendar year. However, this limit does NOT include charges from your provider that exceed Medicare-approved amounts (these are called “Excess Charges”) and you will be responsible for paying this difference in the amount charged by your provider and the amount paid by Medicare for the item or service.
Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are run by private insurance companies and combine Medicare Parts A (hospital coverage) and B (doctor coverage) plus additional benefits all in one plan. Many plans also include prescription drug coverage and are known as MA-PD or Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drug plans. Medicare Advantage plans may come with no additional premium beyond what you already pay for Medicare Part B. To be eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must have Original Medicare (Parts A and B) and continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium each month, unless it is otherwise paid for under Medicaid or by another party.
Many look to the Veterans Health Administration as a model of lower cost prescription drug coverage. Since the VHA provides healthcare directly, it maintains its own formulary and negotiates prices with manufacturers. Studies show that the VHA pays dramatically less for drugs than the PDP plans Medicare Part D subsidizes. One analysis found that adopting a formulary similar to the VHA's would save Medicare $14 billion a year (over 10 years the savings would be around $140 billion).
In a story Oct. 26 about Enbridge Energy's Line 3 replacement project, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Minnesota regulators had formally approved Enbridge's replacement plan, thus clearing the way for an expected appeal by opponents. The state Public Utilities Commission must still hold hearings on petitions for reconsideration before opponents may take the matter to the Minnesota Court of Appeals
California's Medicaid program Medi-Cal is a public health insurance program that provides free or low-cost health care coverage to low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, children in foster care, pregnant women, single adults and low income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer or HIV/AIDS. Medi-Cal pays for medical visits, hospital care, prescription drugs, pregnancy-related treatment, dental and eye care, and other medical services for individuals who do not have healthcare coverage.
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: One of the most popular types of managed-care plans, this type of Medicare Advantage plan comes with a provider network that you must use to be covered by the plan (with the exception of medical emergencies). If you use non-network providers, you may have to pay the full cost for your care. You’re also required to have a primary care physician; if you need to see a specialist, you’ll need to a get a referral from your primary care doctor first.
Advantage plan benefits may change every year. In September, you will receive a packet from your Part C insurance company telling you what is changing. The plan’s benefits, formulary, pharmacy network, provider network, premium and/or co-payments and co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. Will you be diligent enough to review your annual packet and communicate with your agent if you have concerns about the changes?
From Oct. 1 through March 31, we take calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT, seven days a week. You’ll speak with a representative. From April 1 to Sept. 30, call us 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday to speak with a representative. On Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays, you can leave a message and we’ll get back to you within one business day.
Humana Pharmacy mail delivery shipments for new prescriptions are typically received within 7-10 days from the date of your order and in 5-7 days for a refill. If you don’t receive your shipment within these estimated times, call 1-800-379-0092 (TTY: 711). Humana Pharmacy is available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Eastern time
Medicare differs from private insurance available to working Americans in that it is a social insurance program. Social insurance programs provide statutorily guaranteed benefits to the entire population (under certain circumstances, such as old age or unemployment). These benefits are financed in significant part through universal taxes. In effect, Medicare is a mechanism by which the state takes a portion of its citizens' resources to guarantee health and financial security to its citizens in old age or in case of disability, helping them cope with the enormous, unpredictable cost of health care. In its universality, Medicare differs substantially from private insurers, which must decide whom to cover and what benefits to offer to manage their risk pools and guarantee their costs don't exceed premiums.
Medicare Advantage plans have lock-in periods. You can enroll in one during Initial Enrollment Period when you first turn 65. After that, you may enroll or dis-enroll only during certain times of year. Once you enroll in Medicare Advantage, you must stay enrolled in the plan for the rest of the calendar year. You may only dis-enroll from an Advantage plan during specific times of the year.
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.