Medicare Part D is the new prescription drug program required under the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. A landmark new law, Medicare Part D will completely change how seniors will pay for their prescriptions.
Unfortunately, not a lot is known about how the program will actually work. A common misconception is that the government will pay for prescriptions. Actually, the government will only establish minimum requirements for this program to authorize private companies to offer this prescription coverage. That's right, this will be a plan that will be operated by private companies wanting to make a profit...and the program is based on encouraging competition among these providers.
The biggest problem to date is that no one has enough information yet to make a decision about what to do. The providers are prohibited by law from disclosing details about their own, particular programs. That is to allow the government and health insurance providers the opportunity to educate the public. In this way, the private providers can't compete until the starting gates are opened, when they can start to market their own programs.
Another question many people have is, "Will I be eligible for Medicare Part D?" and many others ask, "Will I be forced to change from my existing drug plan to join Medicare Part D?" The answer is this: Everyone who has Medicare is automatically eligible to join Medicare Part D but it is completely up to you whether you actually join Medicare Part D or not. That's right, its your choice to join or not to join. That means no one can stop you from joining, and no one can force you to join. That means you need to make the decision yourself and to do that you need lots of good information.
So, hang on. Prepare for a tremendous advertising blitz starting October 1, 2005. Don't worry right now, but get educated and prepare to make a decision about drug coverage for 2006 and beyond.
Beginning January 1, 2006, Medicare prescription drug coverage is available to all people with Medicare. Medicare will offer insurance coverage for prescription drugs through Medicare drug plans. Insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare will provide these plans. You can join one of these Medicare drug plans beginning November 15, 2005. Check our list of important dates and deadlines that you want to know about.
When you decide you want Medicare prescription drug coverage, you will need to choose a particular Medicare drug plan. There may be many drug plans available in your area to choose from.
Medicare drug plans will have different costs and cover different drugs. This tip sheet will help you compare the information for each Medicare drug plan that you want to learn more about.
Find out if you're an expert on Medicare already by taking our quiz. Remember though, there are lots of new rules and even experts have to study hard to stay current. After you know the basic information about the new rules, you may want to call the government about Medicare Part D if you have more questions or check out our FAQ:
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 1-800-633-4227 TTY: 1-877-486-2048 24 hours a day, 7 days a week www.medicare.gov