High Costs of Specialty Drugs Driving Some Insurers Out of The Marketplace
It goes without saying that the seniors who receive federal taxpayer funded subsidies for low income Medicare recipients are on a fixed budget, that often has no or little wiggle room for any extra expenses. Typically the subsidies cover the full cost of monthly drug plan premiums, but with the rising cost of some prescription drugs some insurers have raised premiums, dropped out of the drug plan market altogether or reduced options in their plans and for many low income seniors that means their federal subsidy will not cover the cost of their Part D drug plan premium next year.
Do You Know if You Are One of the Two Million Who Need to Switch Plans?
There are over eight million traditional Medicare recipients that receive federal drug plan subsidies, and with baby boomers now joining the Medicare rolls that figure is expected to rise in large numbers. As the numbers grow, some Medicare experts say so too will premiums as we are now seeing in this open enrollment period. Experts say some two million senior or disabled people will need to change their coverage plans during this open enrollment or they will have to pay out of pocket for the difference in premium costs and what their subsidy pays for. Seniors this open enrollment period need to carefully review the drug plan they are under to be certain their coverage or premium costs have not changed. Because some plans have been dropped some people who do not choose a new plan may be randomly assigned to a new one. For the beneficiaries who are randomly assigned to another drug plan it will be their responsibility to find out if the new plan covers their medications or not and if they don’t to switch plans to one that does.
But, the Obama administration is strongly urging subsidy beneficiaries to shop their drug plans, even if your subsidy still completely covers your premium costs you should check out other plans as they may offer better coverage and more options.
However, advocates say finding premium free coverage is getting more difficult, adding to the problem is that there are also fewer drug plans; in fact there are twenty percent fewer plans to choose from during this enrollment period for next year’s coverage, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The Kaiser Foundation says there used to be more than a dozen premium free drug plans in every state, but in 2016 there will be 22 states which will only offer six or less premium free plans and Florida will only have three.
There is NO Deadline for Subsidy Recipients You Can Change Plans Anytime
One very important thing for subsidy beneficiaries to know is that they are not limited to the December 7th enrollment deadline. While Medicare Advantage plans and other private insurance plans must make their choice of plans by the December 7th enrollment deadline and are then locked into that plan until the next enrollment period a year later, subsidy beneficiaries can switch their drug plans at any time of the year they choose, there is no deadline for you. Don’t get stuck paying for additional costs, shop around and if you need help choosing the right plan for you contact a free non partisan insurance facilitator who will put you in touch with the insurers that can meet your drug coverage needs.
Do You Qualify For Traditional Medicare Drug Plan Subsidies?
It is expected that many baby boomers will be joining the Medicare rolls this year, many of which may be in need of Medicare subsidies to pay for their supplemental drug insurance coverage, but may not know if they qualify. To qualify for a low income traditional Medicare drug plan subsidy, also known as the “Extra Help” program, the individual cannot have an income of more than $17,655.00 dollars a year and have assets totaling less than $13,640.00 dollars.