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Medicare drug plan changes coming in 2014

Don’t miss the Medicare annual open enrollment period for Part D drug plans, which began Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7.  

“With all the interest and activity around the new Health Insurance Marketplace this fall, we don’t want Iowans on Medicare to miss the Medicare annual open enrollment period,” said Kris Gross from the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

In 2014, Iowa will have 29 stand-alone drug plans, three less than 2013. Even the plans that continue from 2014 may have changed their premium, deductibles and co-payments, so comparing plans is critical for everyone.

Five new plans were added and six plans changed names. Seven plans show reduced premiums and 16 plans have increases. The lowest premium will be $12.60 per month.

The Part D deductible for 2014 will be $310, down from $325 in 2013.  The amount you have to spend out of your pocket to get out of the donut hole is going down $200 to $4,550. 

Once again in 2014, drug manufacturers will provide a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs in the gap and the plan will provide a 2.5 percent discount so your cost for brand name drugs will be 47.5 percent of the drug’s full cost.

The amount you will pay for generics in the gap will be reduced from 79 percent to 72 percent. These discounts will increase each year until 2020, when the gap will no longer exist.

Some plans which are not available in 2014 are transferring members into another plan with the same company for next year. These individuals have been notified via the Annual Notice of Change. 

If your plan is not transferring you into another plan you are considered to be in a non-renewing plan. You should have received a plan termination letter by Oct. 2. You get additional time to choose a Part D plan through February 2014. 

Choosing a plan by Dec. 31, however, assures coverage for Jan. 1. Read all information you receive carefully. 

On Oct. 8 Medicare announced the plans that receive their highest rating of five starts.  They will also identify the “low performing plans.”  These are plans that have had a rating below three stars for three consecutive years. Medicare rates plans from five (highest) to one (lowest) star.

The other important changes you need to be aware of are found on the Medicare website. This is the only place where you can find out which of the 29 plans cover the prescription drugs you are taking, what your co-payments will be, restrictions on drugs you’re taking and an estimate of your total costs for 2014.

Go to www.medicare.gov and do a comparison of 2014 Medicare drug plans. 

SHIIP has step-by-step instructions for doing a comparison of plans on its website www.therightcalliowa.gov.  Go to the “Find Health & Drug Plans” section.

If you don’t use a computer, SHIIP can do a comparison for you. SHIIP is a free, confidential service of the State of Iowa Insurance Division with counselors available across the state to help you compare Medicare drug plans. 

For the SHIIP site nearest you call 1-800-351-4664 (TTY 1-800-735-2942) or go to www.therightcalliowa.gov.

Should you choose to change plans or enroll in a plan if you missed an earlier deadline, you must enroll in the new plan between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. 

SHIIP counselors can assist you with the enrollment. If you’re happy with the plan you have and what it’s offering next year you don’t need to do a thing. Your enrollment will continue into next year.

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