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$250 Checks in the Mail for Older Idahoans Struggling with Rx Costs

Thursday, June 10, 2010 Sexual Health News J E 4
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Expected to Help 30% of Idaho's 213,000 Medicare Beneficiaries Who Land in the Rx 'Doughnut Hole' – AARP Tips for Recipients

BOISE, Idaho, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Older Idahoans living in fear of the cost of their next prescription drug may be getting some good news in the mail in the coming days; a $250 check to help.  The checks are being mailed automatically to Idaho Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the dreaded Part D prescription drug coverage gap know as the "doughnut hole" – which leaves many stuck paying full price for their drugs, a cost many simply can't afford.

Each year nearly 30% Idaho's 213,000 Medicare beneficiaries fall into the "doughnut hole," nationally over 3 million older Americans land in the coverage gap. The $250 Medicare rebates, a part of the new health care law, are the first step towards closing the dangerous gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage.  Closing this gap has been a top priority for AARP.  

"When older Idahoans have to pay full price for their prescriptions many are forced to cut their pills, take less than the prescribed amount, or simply stop taking the drug altogether," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "No one should have to choose between filling a grocery cart and a prescription – these checks are a great first step towards providing needed relief."

Starting in 2011, people who reach the doughnut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs.  By 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated entirely. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began mailing the first group of rebate checks today.  Checks will continue to be mailed as more people reach the doughnut hole in 2010.

Below are tips and facts people in Medicare Part D should know about the rebate check and their prescription drugs:

  • Receipts can help you track your spending.  People in Medicare Part D who have paid more than $940 in out-of-pocket drug costs should automatically receive a check after reaching that threshold but should save receipts just in case.  If you think you've reached the doughnut hole and don't receive your check within a few months, having your receipts handy will be helpful when talking to Medicare.
  • Medicare tracks your drug costs for you. Once you reach the coverage gap, you will receive a check.
  • Protect yourself against scams. If someone says they can help you get your check more quickly if you pay them a fee, immediately report this scam or any similar fraud to the police or to the Attorney General at (208) 334-2400. You should also report any suspected scam to Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
  • Your check will be mailed to the address Social Security uses to reach you. If you need to change your address, please call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer, a change of address may also be reported by calling or visiting your local Social Security office.
  • You may be able to save on your prescription drugs.  By entering the name of each of your drugs, its dosage, and how often you take it into AARP's Doughnut Hole Calculator (www.aarp.org/doughnuthole), you can see when you are likely to enter the doughnut hole.  This tool will also identify less costly drugs available in your Part D plan and will print out a personalized letter that will help you begin a conversation with your physician about switching to lower-cost alternatives.

Check www.aarp.org/getthefacts for more information on how the new health care law will affect you and your family.

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

Follow us on Twitter @AARPIdaho and Facebook: AARP Idaho

SOURCE AARP Idaho

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