National Public Radio (NPR) provided the following in its May 26, 2010 article "What the Health Law Means to You" by Phil Galewitz, on www.npr.org:
"The Medicare prescription-drug benefit will be improved substantially. This year, seniors who reach a certain threshold of out of pocket drug expenses known as the 'donut hole' will get $250 to help pay for their medications.
Beyond that, drug company discounts on brand-name drugs and federal subsidies and discounts for all drugs will gradually reduce the gap, eliminating it by 2020.
Meanwhile, government payments to Medicare Advantage, the private-plan part of Medicare, will be frozen starting in 2011, and cut in the following years. If you're one of the 10 million enrollees, you could lose 'extra' benefits that many of the plans offer, such as free eyeglasses, hearing aids and gym memberships.
To cushion the blow to beneficiaries, the cuts to health plans in high-cost areas of the country such as New York City and South Florida — where seniors have enjoyed the richest benefits — will be phased in over as many as seven years.
Beginning this year, the law will make all Medicare preventive services, such as screenings for colon, prostate and breast cancer, free to beneficiaries."
Will Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D benefits increase?
Reuters, in its Mar. 22, 2010 article "Q+A: How Does Healthcare Overhaul Affect Medicare?" by Donna Smith, on www.reuters.com, provided:
"Medicare will begin paying for annual wellness visits and increase reimbursements for primary care physicians. Currently Medicare only pays for a general checkup when someone first enters the program and many health analysts believe regular check ups would help improve the overall health of elderly people and provide for better coordination of care.
Also the bill provides for an improvement in the Medicare prescription drug program. The current program includes a significant coverage gap that the legislation will eventually close. Currently people fall into this so-called doughnut hole falls after a total $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage begins again after $6,154 is spent.
In 2010, people who fall into the doughnut hole will get a $250 rebate. In 2011, they will get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. By 2020, the doughnut hole will have been closed and 75 percent of drug costs will be covered."
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) wrote in its issue brief "Summary of Key Changes to Medicare in 2010 Health Reform Law" provided on www.kff.org (accessed July 15, 2010):
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
"• Phases in coverage in the Medicare Part D drug benefit coverage gap, or 'doughnut hole.' In 2010, Part D enrollees with any spending in the coverage gap will receive a $250 rebate. Beginning in 2011, enrollees with spending in the coverage gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, provided by the pharmaceutical industry. The law phases in Medicare coverage in the gap for generic drugs beginning in 2011, and for brand-name drugs beginning in 2013. By 2020, Part D enrollees will be responsible for 25 percent of the cost of both brands and generics in the gap, down from 100 percent in 2010. The catastrophic coverage threshold is reduced between 2014 and 2019.
• Improves coverage of prevention benefits. Beginning in 2011, no coinsurance or deductibles will be charged in traditional Medicare for preventive services that are rated A or B by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Medicare will cover a free annual comprehensive wellness visit and personalized prevention plan."
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provided the following in its May 2010 brochure "Medicare and the New Health Care Law — What It Means for You" on www.healthcare.gov:
"• If you enter the Part D 'donut hole' this year, you will receive a one-time, $250 rebate check if you are not already receiving Medicare Extra Help. These checks will begin mailing in mid-June, and will continue monthly throughout the year as beneficiaries enter the coverage gap.
• Next year, if you reach the coverage gap, you will receive a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs.
• Over the next ten years, you will receive additional savings until the coverage gap is closed in 2020...
• Next year you can get free preventive care services like colorectal cancer screening and mammograms. You can also get a free annual physical to develop and update your personal prevention plan based on current health needs."
The Washington Post provided the following in its Mar. 28, 2010 article "The Health-Care Law: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" by Martha Lynn Craver:
"If your former employer offers prescription drug coverage to Medicare-eligible retirees, that benefit might be in danger. Starting in 2013, the tax break employers get for providing that benefit to retirees will be cut, increasing the likelihood employers will drop it.
You might have to pay more if your supplemental coverage is through Medicare Advantage, because government payments to those plans will decrease. You could lose extra benefits such as free eyeglasses and hearing aids."