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Treatment News
Medicare's New Prescription Drug Coverage

By Haroun Habib

September/October 2005

Haroun Habib
Medicare, the nation's health insurance program for people age 65 and over and some persons with disabilities, is changing. It is important for people with Medicare to understand these changes in order to make a more informed decision about their healthcare.


What Is New in Medicare?

Medicare now offers more preventive benefits, prescription drug coverage beginning January 1, 2006, and new private health plan options.

The most important change in the new law is the benefit to help people with Medicare with their prescription drug costs.

The first step of this help is the Medicare-approved drug discount card. This is a temporary program to help people with Medicare until prescription drug coverage is available January 1, 2006.

People with Medicare can still obtain a drug discount card by working with community organizations, calling 1-800-MEDICARE or going to Medicare's www.medicare.gov Web site to apply for a discount card.

If you have Medicare and have HIV/AIDS, you need to know:


What Is a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan?

Medicare's New Prescription Drug Coverage
Medicare prescription drug plans provide insurance coverage for prescription drugs. These plans will be offered by insurance companies and other private companies. Plans will cover both generic and brand-name prescription drugs. At least two Medicare prescription drug plans will serve people in your area. You can choose the plan that meets your needs.

There are two types of Medicare prescription drug plans. There will be prescription drug plans that add coverage to the original Medicare plan. There will also be prescription drug coverage that is part of Medicare Health Plans (like HMOs and PPOs). You would get all of your Medicare health care through these plans.


Key Point!

Everyone with Medicare is eligible for this coverage regardless of income level and resources, preexisting conditions or current prescription expenses. Extra help is available for people with limited income. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to Medicare's www.medicare.gov Web site for further information.

Haroun Habib is a MORE Summer Fellow intern with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and presented at the ASP Healthy Choice = Healthy Lives forum on Medicare changes, July 19. He can be reached at haroun.habib@cms.hhs.gov.

AIDS Survival Project, with the support of an educational grant from Pfizer Pharmacueticals, will be sponsoring a forum on finding the right Medicare Prescription Drug benefit for you. The date has not been set, but will take place in late October or early November. We also have information at our office and on our Web site at www.aidssurvivalproject.org to help explain the changes to Medicare and how they will impact you. Please contact us at (404) 874-7926 for information on the upcoming program or if you have questions about Medicare.




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