Recent Changes in Medicare in Minnesota
Recent Changes in Medicare in Minnesota include the implementation of prescription drug coverage under Part D of Medicare. While Medicare Parts A and B cover hospitalization and medical services, Part D allows Minnesota Medicare beneficiaries to obtain their prescription medications through insurance providers who offer the benefit, are approved by Medicare, and are approved by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
With so many insurance providers offering a wide variety of plans covering various medications, Medicare Part D has been causing a great deal of confusion to those who need to understand the plan the most. This confusion and lack of understanding is causing many beneficiaries to not obtain adequate coverage.
Medicare Part D - Friend or Foe
With such a wide variety of options in prescription coverage for Medicare in MN, it is important that you get accurate information regarding the coverage they need for their particular prescription drug needs. Once a beneficiary has been placed in a plan or they have chosen a plan, they cannot opt out of that plan or change into another plan until the end of the year. If they choose to enroll in a plan that does not cover a needed medicine, they will have to cover the costs out of pocket, or apply for subsidized assistance through their state or local government programs.
While the recent changes in Medicare in Minnesota appear to be a great benefit to senior citizens and any disabled individuals receiving MN Medicare benefits, it can also cause large out-of-pocket expenses during the gap periods of coverage. Once a beneficiary has reached the maximum yearly prescription costs allowed, they enter into a gap, or what is better known as the donut hole of their Part D coverage. During this period the participants do not receive prescription drug coverage through their insurance plan, although they are still required to pay their monthly premiums.
Studies are showing that the lack of coverage during this period is proving to be a dangerous situation. Many Medicare participants that are in the low or moderate-income brackets are choosing to cut back on taking their medications, or are not taking them at all. There are many medications that should not be suddenly stopped or taken irregularly, such as medications for the treatment of diabetes or mental health issues. When these types of needed medications aren't taken as prescribed it can have grave consequences.
It is important that those advocating for seniors and the disabled be pro-active in helping those struggling to obtain their needed prescriptions obtain any available services through Minnesota state run programs as well as any programs being run at the local level so that all needed prescribed medications are obtained.
*You may be able to get extra help to pay for your prescription drug premiums and costs. To see if you qualify for getting extra help, call:
- 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY/TDD users should call 1-877-486-2048, 24 hours a day/7 days a week;
- The Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. TTY/TDD users should call, 1-800-325-0778; or Your State Medicaid Office.