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Home About Us News Latest News Tagged with: Medicare

Latest News

Medicare Part D Open Enrollment Ends December 7

11/27/2012 2:30pm

Navigating through the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage can be confusing and choosing the wrong plan can be a costly mistake with high out of pocket expenses. So, how do you find the right option? Where do you turn if you simply don’t know where to start?

The Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) is a statewide program run by a team of volunteers that have gone through an extensive training on Medicare and Medicaid. MMAP can help individuals determine which plans cover their medications and narrow down their options to see what will work best for them. The decision on which plan to choose is still made by the individual, but they are armed with the information they need to make the decision.

“The options can be a lot to sort through, especially if you are taking multiple medications and need to search for plans that cover specific prescriptions,” says Karen Rozelle, Regional MMAP Coordinator at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. “So much of the research into which plan is right for you is completed online now, which can be intimidating to some older adults. Our volunteers are trained in how to use the system and they are ready to help.”

This year there are 34 available drug plans in Michigan.  Some of the plans that were popular in West Michigan in 2012 have been discontinued for 2013 while other ones have changed portions of the coverage. Experts advise beneficiaries to review their plan each year to make sure it still works for their current needs.

“Plans can change from year to year and if you don’t do the research, you may end up with surprises that are very costly. By doing the research, you can determine if that plan still fits your needs,” says Rozelle. “It’s also possible that someone’s health and /or their health care needs have changed during the year and they will want to take that into consideration. For example, are they going to the doctor more often or are they taking more medications now than before. All of these need to be considered in order to make the most cost effective choice.”

To contact a MMAP counselor in your area, call 1-800-803-7174. To search plans online go to www.medicare.gov

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Medicare Physician Reimbursement

1/10/2011 11:15am

In early December, the House followed the Senate in voting to delay the Medicare Physicians Reimbursement Rate cut. This was signed by the President and will delay the cuts for another twelve months.

Thank you all for your advocacy efforts which helped prevent the cuts from becoming a reality. Passage of the reimbursement reduction would have been harmful to seniors as more physicians would stop accepting new Medicare patients.

The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that the extension will cost $15 billion.

Advocates are hopeful that lawmakers will review and make changes to how the reimbursements are funded in order to correct the problem.

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Medicare Donut Hole Gets Smaller

11/9/2010 2:30pm

Changes are coming for those with Medicare Part D Prescription Drug coverage. These revisions, brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), include reductions in the donut hole which will cut back on costly medication expenses. The new adjustments will take effect in 2011, but decisions on coverage have to be made between November 15 and December 31.

The Part D coverage gap (donut hole) is like a second deductible in the middle of the year for those with high prescription drug costs.  In 2011 individuals will reach the coverage gap after the full costs of their prescriptions for the year reaches $2,840.

In the past, once that amount was reached, individuals would be required to pay the full cost for their prescriptions until they reached the catastrophic level of coverage.  In 2011 (because of the ACA changes) beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap will only pay 93% of the cost for their generic medications and 50% for their brand name drugs.  Each year this coverage gap will be reduced until it is completely eliminated in 2020. 

“These reductions will significantly lower beneficiary’s out-of-pocket expenses,” says Karen Rozelle, Regional Michigan Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) Coordinator at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan.  “There still are costs for the Part D Drug plans and when comparing options, individuals need to factor in medications, co-payments, premiums and other out of pocket expenses.”

MMAP is a free program that utilizes trained volunteers to counsel Medicare beneficiaries and their families with Medicare and/or Medicaid questions. They also provide assistance with the Part D drug program process.

This year there are 35 stand-alone prescription drug plans to choose from for Michigan residents. Premiums range from $14.80 to $111.80 each month.  

“Selecting a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan can be an overwhelming process,” says Rozelle. “We encourage seniors to make their health care coverage decisions based on all the facts. Choosing a plan that does not offer the best coverage for their needs can be very costly.”

Once an individual has enrolled in a prescription drug plan, they are under that plan’s guidelines for an entire year, so this is not a choice that should be made lightly.  Rozelle recommends consulting a MMAP counselor, who is trained on what to look for and how to help individuals navigate the Medicare Prescription Drug program.

Medicare beneficiaries must consider all the medications they are currently taking. “Each plan provides different prescription coverage and it is important to include all prescriptions to ensure they are covered under the Part D plan. Not factoring in all of their medications could be a costly mistake,” says Rozelle.

Rozelle recommend reviewing your drug plan each year to see if there have been changes. “It never hurts to be informed,” she states. “Taking precautions to ensure you have the coverage you need may help prevent problems or surprises during the year.”

The ACA also includes coverage for preventative services and some new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries in 2011 like annual free wellness exams. 

MMAP operates statewide so, individuals can call 1-800-803-7174 from anywhere in Michigan and be routed to counselors in their area. Volunteers are available in the nine counties served by the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan.

For assistance, or to set up an appointment, call MMAP at 1-800-803-7174.

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Flu Shots for Kent County Residents

9/7/2010 2:30pm

The schedule for flu shots is now available, with the first location on September 30. For more information, look in the calendar section or open the “2010_flu_shot_schedule” in the right hand column.

Flu shots are available for Kent County residents 60-64 who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid funded vaccinations.

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#1 Gayle Fisk said:

What about flu shots for the wife of a disabled person, whom , I , have mo medical coverage at all??? I need one but can't afford it. I got one last year at the 14 mile road health clinic in Rockford at no cost, and now they say they aren't doing that free anymore. Help

#2 Webmaster said:

Gayle, thank you for the inquiry. I have sent this information to you privately as well, but I would recommend contacting Catherine's Health Center. Their phone number is 616-336-8800 and they are located at 224 Carrier NE Grand Rapids, MI 49505.

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Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan
3215 Eaglecrest Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Phone: 616-456-5664 or 888-456-5664 • Fax: 616-456-5692

aaainfo@aaawm.org

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