Beginning June 10, people in Medicare Part D who reach the coverage gap or “doughnut hole” will automatically receive a $250 rebate this year to help them with their drug costs and other expenses.
The rebate check is part of the new health care law and is the first step in the gradual closing of the Part D “doughnut hole”, which will help make prescription drugs more affordable for people in Medicare Part D. Closing the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” has been a top priority for AARP members and all older Americans.
Each year more than 3 million people fall into the “doughnut hole”. Research also shows that people who have trouble paying for their prescriptions are more likely to skip or stop taking their medications altogether. This can lead to more serious health problems and higher long-term costs both for them and for our health care system as a whole.
Starting in 2011, people who reach the doughnut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. By 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated entirely.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to begin mailing the first group of rebate checks beginning June 10, 2010. Checks will continue to be mailed as more people reach the doughnut hole in 2010.
Below are five facts people in Medicare Part D should know about the rebate check and their prescription drugs:
- Receipts can help you track your spending. People in Medicare Part D who have paid more than $940 in out-of-pocket drug costs should automatically receive a check after reaching that threshold but you should save your receipts just in case. If you think you’ve reached the doughnut hole and don’t receive your check within a few months, having your receipts handy will be helpful when talking to Medicare.
- Checks will be mailed automatically. Medicare tracks your drug costs for you. Once you reach the coverage gap, you will receive a check.
- Protect yourself against scams. If someone says they can help you get your check more quickly if you pay them a fee, immediately report this scam or any similar fraud to the police or to your Attorney General. You can find the Attorney General’s phone number in the blue pages of the telephone book or online at www.naag.org.
- You should also report any suspected scam to Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
- Your check will be mailed to the address Social Security uses to reach you. If you need to change your address, please call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer, a change of address may also be reported by calling or visiting your local Social Security office.
You may be able to save on your prescription drugs. By entering the name of each of your drugs, its dosage, and how often you take it into AARP’s Doughnut Hole Calculator, you can see when you are likely to enter the doughnut hole. This tool will also identify less costly drugs available in your Part D plan and will print out a personalized letter that will help you begin a conversation with your physician about switching to lower-cost alternatives.
For more information on how the new health care law will affect you and your family go to aarp.org/getthefacts.