Medicare drug plan changes coming for 2014

Don’t miss the Medicare annual open enrollment period for Part D drug plans which begins October 15 and runs through December 7.   “With all the interest and activity around the new Health Insurance Marketplace this fall, we don’t want Iowans on Medicare to miss the Medicare annual open enrollment period,” says Kris Gross from the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). 

In 2014 Iowa will have 29 stand alone drug plans, three less than 2013. Even the plans which continue from 2014 may have changed their premium, deductibles and co-payments so comparing plans is critical for everyone. 

Five new plans were added and six plans changed names.   Seven plans show reduced premiums and 16 plans have increases.  The lowest premium will be $12.60 per month.

The Part D deductible for 2014 will be $310, down from $325 in 2013.  The amount you have to spend out of your pocket to get out of the donut hole is going down $200 to $4,550.  Once again in 2014 drug manufacturers will provide a 50% discount on covered brand name drugs in the gap and the plan will provide a 2.5% discount so your cost for brand name drugs will be 47.5% of the drug’s full cost. The amount you will pay for generics in the gap will be reduced from 79% to 72%.   These discounts will increase each year until 2020, when the gap will no longer exist.

Some plans which are not available in 2014 are transferring members into another plan with the same company for next year.  These individuals have been notified via the Annual Notice of Change.  If your plan is not transferring you into another plan you are considered to be in a non-renewing plan.  You should receive a plan termination letter by October 2. You get additional time to choose a Part D plan through February 2014.  Choosing a plan by December 31, 2013 however assures coverage for January 1.  Read all information you receive carefully.  

On October 8 Medicare will announce the plans which receive their highest rating of five starts.  They will also identify the “low performing plans.”  These are plans which have had a rating below 3 stars for 3 consecutive years.  Medicare rates plans from 5 (highest) to 1 (lowest) star.

The other important changes you need to be aware of are found on the Medicare website.  This is the ONLY place where you can find out which of the 29 plans cover the prescription drugs you are taking, what your co-payments will be, restrictions on drugs you’re taking and an estimate of your total costs for 2014. 

Go to www.medicare.gov and do a comparison of 2014 Medicare drug plans.  SHIIP has step-by-step instructions for doing a comparison of plans on its website, www.therightcalliowa.gov .  Go to the “Find Health & Drug Plans” section.  If you don’t use a computer, SHIIP can do a comparison for you.  SHIIP is a free, confidential service of the State of Iowa Insurance Division with counselors available across the state to help you compare Medicare drug plans.  For the SHIIP site nearest you call 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 1-800-735-2942) or go to www.therightcalliowa.gov

Should you choose to change plans or enroll in a plan if you missed an earlier deadline, you must enroll in the new plan between October 15 and December 7, 2013.  SHIIP counselors can assist you with the enrollment.  If you’re happy with the plan you have and what it’s offering next year you don’t need to do a thing.  Your enrollment will continue into next year.

To view more press releases from SHIIP visit http://www.therightcalliowa.gov/Press.aspx

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
The Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), part of the State of Iowa Insurance Division, provides monthly press releases on topics of interest to the 500,000+ Iowans on Medicare.  The October press release is included in this e-mail.  You have automatically been signed up to receive our press releases through email distribution.  If you do not wish to receive Press Releases from SHIIP please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email.  If you have any questions, please contact Kris Gross at (515) 242-5190 or shiip@iid.iowa.gov