SIOUX FALLS, SD - Thanks to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, over the next few days seniors could be scrambling to figure out which Medicare coverage plan will meet their needs in 2011.
It pays to make sure you make a wise decision because it could save you hundreds of dollars.
In just two days those 65 and older will see changes in their prescription drug coverage, that is if they choose a new plan. If not, their 2010 election will just roll over.
And that could be good or bad.
“They'll still have coverage, but they may not save the money they have been this year. You know it could cost them more next year. So it really does pay to go ahead and take a look and make sure the plan makes the most sense for each beneficiary,” Sarah Jennings with South Dakota AARP said.
To enroll you must be 65-years-old. Jennings says that means over 135,000 South Dakota seniors qualify for Medicare Part D coverage.
“The Part D program really has saved people money but this is the time where you gotta look and make sure that even if their prescription drugs haven't changed at all, they need to make sure that the plan they're on is still the right one for them because the plans can change every year,” Jennings said.
There are 30 plans to choose from, which is actually fewer than last year. That's the bad news. The good news is seniors who fall into what's called the doughnut hole, where you no longer get help paying for drugs, will save money in the coming year.
“In 2010, if you would have been a person who was unfortunately in the doughnut hole for your prescription drug coverage, you paid about $4,550 plus your premiums before you got out of that donut hole and had that catastrophic coverage kick in,” Jennings said.
But thanks to the Affordable Health Care Act, seniors with a gap in coverage will only pay about $2,700 plus premiums next year.
And when they hit that gap, instead of paying 100 percent of drug costs, they'll receive a 50 percent reduction for brand name drugs and a 7 percent reduction on generic.
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