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Be Aware of New Medicare Changes

Under the new health care bill beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare Parts B and D recipients are covered for new preventative services and larger prescription drug discounts:

  • New Medicare enrollees are entitled to a "Welcome to Medicare" exam. This free physical, which must occur within a year after you enroll in Medicare, evaluates your health history, provides counseling about preventive services and, if needed, refers to specialists.
  • All Medicare Part B recipients can receive a free annual exam.
  • Medicare recipients are also are entitled to free screenings for cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Mammograms, bone density tests, colonoscopies, glaucoma tests, prostate exams (including PSA tests) and nutrition therapy are also covered.
  • Although the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" continues, Medicare enrollees will no longer need to bear 100 percent of the costs of prescriptions when they reach the coverage gap. In 2011, after spending $2,840 on prescriptions, there is a 50 percent discount on all brand-name prescriptions and a 7 percent discount on generic drugs. Last year, in 2010, while in the gap, the entire cost was the responsibility of the recipient.
  • When total drug costs for the year reach $4,550, costs drop to just a 5 percent co-pay on all insurer-covered prescriptions.
  • Part D subscribers who have a high annual income (more than $85,000 for individuals and $170,000 for couples), pay a higher premium for Part D drug coverage.

More Medicare information is available here.


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