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First Medicare Benefit from New Health Law Rolls Out

Health Law Provides Relief to Medicare Part D Beneficiaries

As part of the new health care law, people in Medicare Part D who reach the prescription drug coverage gap (or “doughnut hole”) will automatically receive a rebate of $250 this year to help with their drug costs and other expenses. 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. Closing this gap has been a top priority for AARP members and all older Americans.

The Check is in the Mail

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; over the course of 2010 more than 3 million people will receive the $250 rebate check.

What You Need to Know About the Checks

Checks will be mailed automatically. Protect yourself against scams. Medicare tracks your drug costs for you. Once you reach the coverage gap, you will receive a check. No one should contact you about these checks. If someone says they can help you get your check more quickly for a fee, it’s a scam. Please report suspicious activity to the office of Nevada’s Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto at 1-888-738-7305, or call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

Save Your Prescription Drug Receipts. 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 the people at Medicare.

Your check will be mailed to the address Social Security uses. 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, dosages, and how frequently you take them 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 that might be viable alternatives.

How the New Health Care Law Affects You

Check for more information on how the new health care law will affect you and your family. On this webpage the article User’s Guide to Health Care Reform provides detail on what the law offers to you, whether you are on Medicare, an employer-sponsored retiree health plan, in business for yourself or trying to find insurance on the open market.

Other Resources

Doughnut Hole Rebate Fact Sheet

Figure out whether you’ll fall into the Doughnut Hole, and how to avoid it

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