Two distinct premium support systems have recently been proposed in Congress to control the cost of Medicare. The House Republicans' 2012 budget would have abolished traditional Medicare and required the eligible population to purchase private insurance with a newly created premium support program. This plan would have cut the cost of Medicare by capping the value of the voucher and tying its growth to inflation, which is expected to be lower than rising health costs, saving roughly $155 billion over 10 years. Paul Ryan, the plan's author, claimed that competition would drive down costs, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the plan would dramatically raise the cost of health care, with all of the additional costs falling on enrollees. The CBO found that under the plan, typical 65-year-olds would go from paying 35 percent of their health care costs to paying 68 percent by 2030.
In 2003 Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law on December 8, 2003. Part of this legislation included filling gaps in prescription-drug coverage left by the Medicare Secondary Payer Act that was enacted in 1980. The 2003 bill strengthened the Workers' Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Program (WCMSA) that is monitored and administered by CMS.
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.
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).
Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were implemented in January 2014. With the implementation of the ACA, many of the participants in Healthy San Francisco became newly eligible for insurance through Medi-Cal Expansion starting January 2014, resulting in an 83 percent caseload increase within two years. The Human Services Agency (HSA) aims to further increase enrollment through outreach to the estimated 10,000 low-income San Franciscans who do not have health insurance.
The 2019 Initial Coverage Limit (ICL) is $3,820. The Coverage Gap (donut hole) starts when you reach the ICL ($3,820) and ends when you spend a total of $5,100. This year, Part D enrollees get a 75% discount on the total cost of brand-name drugs purchased while in the donut hole. A 70% discount, paid by the brand-name drug manufacturer, applies to getting out of the donut hole. But, the additional 5% paid by your PDP does not count toward your True Out-of-Pocket (TrOOP) costs.
A “Welcome to Medicare” packet is mailed out a few months before you turn 65. If you are not yet 65 but receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, or receive certain disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board, then you become eligible for Medicare as soon as you enter into the 25th straight month of receiving those benefits.
If you’re eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65, and ends three months after that birthday. However, if you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, you have another chance each year to sign up during a “general enrollment period” from January 1 through March 31. Your coverage begins on July 1 of the year you enroll. Read our Medicare publication for more information.