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Seniors Must Decide on Medicare Options Quickly

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Understanding options for prescription drug coverage through Medicare part D is not as difficult as some seniors are lead to believe. Much help is available to help seniors decide on their Medicare enrollment options before the Wednesday enrollment closing date.

What Seniors can Expect from Medicare in 2009

Medicare reimbursement for 2009 is as follows:

Most seniors do not have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare part A, but the deductible for hospital, and skilled nursing home stays is $1,068 for the first sixty days.

Part B Medical insurance premium will cost seniors $96.40 per month, unless your income is above $85,000 if you are single, or $170,000 per couple, in which case you may pay more.

Part B Medicare covers 80% of most healthcare costs after meeting a $135 annual deductible. Without Medicare part B, out of pocket health expenses would be unmanageable for most seniors, and are as follows, from the Medicare website:

"Part A: (pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home health care) For each benefit period Medicare pays all covered costs except the Medicare Part A deductible (2009 = $1,068) during the first 60 days and coinsurance amounts for hospital stays that last beyond 60 days and no more than 150 days.

For each benefit period seniors pay:

· A total of $1,068 for a hospital stay of 1-60 days.

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· $267 per day for days 61-90 of a hospital stay.

· $534 per day for days 91-150 of a hospital stay (Lifetime Reserve Days).

· All costs for each day beyond 150 days

Skilled Nursing Facility Coinsurance

· $133.50 per day for days 21 through 100 each benefit period."

Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors

Seniors must review each plan's formulary. The key to getting the best drug coverage is by looking at available options to find the medicines you are taking. If you find a plan that can save money, but does not include your current prescriptions, give a call to your doctor to see if medication changes can be made to help reduce your prescription drug costs in 2009.

Prescription drugs fall into categories. It is very likely that your doctor can work with you to find a way to reduce prescription drug costs, by prescribing a drug in the same category as the one you are taking. Physicians understand that most seniors are on a budget, so please do not be afraid to talk to your doctor about your Medicare plan options.

Very few drugs are covered under Medicare part B. Exceptions include some cancer drugs. Seniors should take seriously, the need to find a good Medicare prescription drug plan. Please carefully review your current plan, because prices of drugs have increased. It is important to make sure your Medicare drug plan is still the best to meet your healthcare needs. Experts are fearful that seniors will stay with the plan they already have, simply out of habit.

The top ten Medicare drug plans, according to an analysis from the management-consulting firm Avalere Health, will result in a cost increase from 8 percent to 63.7 percent in 2009. The Medicare part D changes are very likely to affect seniors. Seniors need to quickly review, and change their Medicare part D prescription drug coverage quickly.