On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that Medicare prescription premiums will increase by a small amount next year, and that benefits will improve as well. More specifically, the average monthly premium for standard coverage will rise to $30 in 2011. This represents an increase of $1 over 2010, or a 3% increase, according to Don Berwick the Medicare administrator. The estimate is based on the assumption that seniors will enroll in lower cost plans. Those seniors who stay in their current plans and don’t look for cheaper plans will see a higher average premium of around $32.34 a month, according to Paul Spitalnic, a representative of Medicare’s costs estimates office.
Starting next year Medicare beneficiaries who experience the doughnut hole will get a 50% discount on brand name drugs and 7% off generics. These discounts will continue to increase until there is no gap which is expected to occur in 2020. As you may know, Medicare drug plans vary dramatically in terms of cost and coverage, so we recommend that you check your clients’ plans and inform them of the changes to avoid unpleasant phone calls from surprised individuals.
HP Gets $200 Million Medicare Contract
Medicare has awarded HP Enterprise Services with a $200 million contract to improve claims processing and also the delivery of health care services for Medicare Part B coverage. The contract has a one-year base period, plus seven one-year renewal options.
Medicare Scam Deflated
In a bit of comical news, two men in South Florida running two companies called Charlie Rx and Happy Trips submitted $63,000 in bills to Medicare for male vacuum erection systems (a.k.a. “penis pumps") and collected over $28,000 in Medicare payments. The government also found the two companies billed Medicare for nearly $2 million overall for other medical equipment, receiving a total of $735,000. As usual, the criminals’ arrogance, laziness, and/or stupidity are what led to their capture. Authorities realized something wasn’t right when they received a claim for four male vacuum erection systems for a single female patient.
Third Round of Doughnut Hole Checks Mailed
Last week, a third round of $250 rebate checks was mailed to eligible Medicare beneficiaries who fell into the Medicare Part D doughnut hole. Before this third round was sent out, CMS says that more than 750,000 have already received their checks. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stated that these checks continue to demonstrate the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. This may also be a good time to remind your seniors that they will receive these checks automatically when they reach the doughnut hole. Anyone calling or any website requesting information to receive the checks is a scam.
Sources: AP, BusinessWeek, Senior Journal, CNN