AARP Medicare Drug Plan
AARP is the most established and reliable source of information for citizens aged 50 and above. This organization has been a treasure trove of information about what it is like to live in your senior years. AARP is an institution for recommending the best for every aspect of life in such stage--covering everything from lifestyle to finances. One of the most important data this organization provides is on Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Plan.
AARP has outlined a detailed guide on how members or Medicare card holders should plan for their drug prescription coverage. Since AARP has multi-tiered plans for seniors, you might find yourself lost in the maze of drug prescription plans. By reading this guide, you may find your way out, with having picked the right plan for you.
Video: Medicare Part D Plan: Member Story - Carolyn
Choosing a drug plan provided by AARP means you are enrolled in Medicare Part D. Also known as the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Part D is available for everyone enrolled in Medicare. This is an option offered by private companies that have been previously approved by Medicare. Such plan requires the payment of monthly premiums and may be added to your Original Medicare Plan when you were automatically enrolled. If you did not enroll in this plan when you first acquired Medicare, the system requires you to pay what they call a "late enrollment penalty" if you wish to change your mind. Under this plan, you can get discounts on your prescription purchases. Eligibility for this plan is the same with Part A since everyone can qualify for Part D. If you are experiencing financial setbacks, you can receive this service for a minimal fee or free of charge.
Drug Plans Offered
When you sign up for drug prescription coverage, it means you have to enroll with any of the 45 plans from private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans vary in costs and benefits. AARP offers three drug plans that have flat co-pays hence, they are more affordable. Based on a doctor's summary, the following is a list of their plans:
1. AARP Medicare Rx Plan
This plan covers all of the drugs under Medicare Part D with average-priced premium. This has flat and more affordable co-pays without any deductibles and has more than 60,000 pharmacies in its network.
2. AARP Medicare Rx Plan-Enhanced
Like the basic plan, this second plan also covers all drugs in Medicare Part D but with tier coverage within the coverage gap. This plan also has a bonus drug list which is not found in Medicare Part D. Similarly, the co-pay is flat and simple and without deductibles but with more than 60,000 pharmacies in this network.
3. AARP Medicare Rx Plan-Saver
This saver plan has low monthly premiums and co-pays but has a yearly deductible of $265. Just like the previous plans, this has all the drugs covered by Medicare Part D.
Coinsurance is a principle under this system that requires you to pay a certain percentage for each prescription. Plans may have co-insurance or co-payments while others have a combination of co-insurance and co-payments. For drug prescription plans, private insurance companies use four tiers to compute either co-payments or co-insurance. These are the following:
Tier One: This has the lowest and most affordable co-pay and usually covers generic drugs
Tier Two: This covers the average co-pay and covers those brand name drugs which are preferred
Tier Three: This has higher co-pay percentage, covering brand name drugs that are non-preferred
Tier Four: This has the highest amount on co-pay, usually covering highly expensive drugs or those so-called specialty drugs
*To find out the new rates for coinsurance in 2009, you can visit the Medicare.gov.
List of Pharmacies
Once you have chosen a drug plan from a certain private company, you will be provided by the latter of the network of pharmacies available in your area. But even prior to enrolling in a certain drug plan; you might want to check if a local pharmacy near you is listed in their network. There is no certainty that Walgreens or CVS is listed in your drug plan sponsor's network and should you want those to be included, make sure that you make an inquiry before joining a certain plan and if it has national coverage so you can purchase your drug prescriptions wherever you are in the country. You may also check the Medicare Prescription Drug Finder online for a list of pharmacies available to your desired plans.
According to Medicare, there are two ways on how to enroll for this plan:
1. Enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan if you already have Original Medicare Plan (Plan A). Part D can also complement some of the Medicare Cost Plans, Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plans, and Medicare Savings Account Plans. Part D would be an additional drug prescription coverage for you.
2. Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Some of the plans under this are your HMO or PPO. You can also enroll in other Medicare health plans which allow you to add Medicare prescription drug coverage as supplement.
You can begin your prescription drug plan the moment you become eligible for Medicare. Medicare policy allows persons covered by this plan to change their plans between November 15 to December 31 of every year. The change would commence on the first of January of the following year. Calendar year is applicable for this system. If you, however, were not able to join Part D the moment you became eligible for Medicare and you have been going without any creditable prescription drug coverage for 63 consecutive days and beyond, and you decided to join the plan later, you will be required to pay a late penalty fee. What is known as the creditable prescription drug coverage, according to Medicare publication, is the prescription drug coverage you are expected to pay roughly equal to Medicare's standard prescription drug coverage. This kind of penalty, while it may vary from year to year, will be fixed on your bills as long as you are enrolled under this plan.
Video: Medicare Part D Plan: Member Story - Cynthia
Since Medicare Part D is available for every Medicare card holder; anyone can easily apply for prescription drug coverage. The requirements for eligibility are the same with Parts A and B although Part D may command higher premium payments based on your income. But if you have problems with your financial situation, you can get coverage for a lower fee or for no cost at all. The general requirements for eligibility are stated below.
For Ages 65 and above
- You or your spouse has been employed for a minimum of ten years in an employment covered by Medicare.
- A bona fide citizen of the United States
- You have begun to receive your retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board
* However, if you do not receive retirement benefits from Social Security, you will be eligible for Medicare upon reaching 65 years old.
For Below 65
- You have been receiving your retirement benefits from Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board for at least two years.
- You either have a disability or are suffering from End-Stage Renal disease subject to additional requirements by Medicare
The cost for this insurance will depend on the prescription you need and if you receive extra help for paying your Medicare costs. For the most part, costs include: monthly premiums charge around $27.93, $275 as deductibles, and a minimal amount for co-pay for every drug.
Your Options for Prescription Drug Coverage
Your type of Medicare plan determines the prescription drug coverage that can be made available to you. These are your options for drug coverage:
1. Through the Original Medicare
This will require you to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. But before you can join that, you must have either or both Medicare Part A and B.
2. Through Medicare Advantage Plan (such as HMO or PPO and other medical health plans)
To get prescription drug coverage, you will be required to join a plan allowing that. This is allowed in Medicare Advantage Plans. Under the advantage plan, the co-payments are lower and you are entitled to extra benefits as compared to the Original Medicare. However, you may be required to consult doctors and hospitals affiliated with the company providing the Medicare Advantage Plan only. Like the Original Medicare, you are required to have Part A and Part B to qualify.