Friday, December 30, 2005

Medicare Drug Coverage: New Challenges and New Resources

Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage begins on Sunday, amid continuing concerns by seniors and their advocates. NPR reports that there are 6.5 million "dual eligible" recipients--those who are eligible for both medicare and medicaid--who should be automatically enrolled in a medicare drug plan, but some are falling through the cracks and could end up with no coverage at all. explains an additional challenge for these "dual eligibles"--that the plan in which they are enrolled may not be suited to their needs. But, according to the site, "The good news is, the law allows these 'dual beneficiaries' the right to change their plan every month if necessary as they work to find one that covers all their prescriptions." An additional concern is the small number of medicare recipients who have chosen a drug plan this far. According to Medical News Today, "less than five percent of people who could voluntarily choose a prescription drug plan have done so."

Help for recipients continues to grow as well. According to a December 29, 2005 Boston Globe article, there is a bill on the governor's desk that would provide seniors with some temporary protection if they find their initial drug coverage plan does not cover their necessary medications. There are also additional web resources available. The Globe's website,, has added a special section Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit: Special Report, which includes resources, tips, definitions, and questions and answers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide many resources, including A National Conversation--Friends and Family First, Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage. This interactive website helps facilitate "a conversation with a friend or loved one about the new Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage." It provides five web-based steps: "1. Understand the basics of Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage. 2. Determine how your friend or family member gets current prescription coverage today. 3. Gather some important information. 4. Review the plan choices. 5. Help them enroll."
You can find more links at our Law About Medicare.