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Closing the Doughnut Hole

Since the inception of the dreaded “donut hole” in 2003, AARP member and advocacy volunteer Pat Engelhardt has been forced to pay for her two necessary name brands medications out of pocket. Because Englehardt falls into the donut hole each year around June or July, she often gave up travel to see her family and even had to scale back on utilities and other spending.

She’s relieved that the new health care law will provide her with a $250 rebate that mailed in June. “It’s been an ongoing financial burden for us. We’re retired, we live off our savings and social security. The closing of the donut hole will give us the peace of mind that I will be able to always have the medicine I need,” she said.

As part of the new health care law, the rebate check is the first step in the gradual closing of the doughnut hole, which will help make prescription drugs more affordable for people in Medicare Part D. By 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated completely. Closing this gap has been a top priority for AARP members and all older Delawareans.

In Delaware, more than one in four Medicare beneficiaries fall into the Part D doughnut hole, about 27 percent. This number would have continued to increase.

Delawareans also spend more on prescription drugs than the rest of the country. Delaware residents filled about 11 prescriptions at an average cost of $59 per year, versus $53 per year on average across the nation.

During this time, be sure to protect yourself from scams. If someone says they can help you get your check more quickly if you pay them a fee, immediately contact the Attorney General in your telephone book or find your local AG at www.naag.org.

You should also report any suspected scam to Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

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