Medicare: What’s New?

Donut Hole Getting Smaller

In 2017, if beneficiaries reach the coverage gap known as the “donut hole” in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, they will pay 40 percent of the plan’s cost for covered brand-name drugs and 51 percent of the plan’s cost for covered generic drugs until they have reached the end of the coverage gap.

Online Tools Improving

Medicare continues to improve the online tools and support available to Medicare beneficiaries during annual Open Enrollment. Look for the following enhancements if you log on to

  • If you’re using the prescription drug tool on, a “basket” of drugs will auto populate based on the last 12 months of drug claims.
  • Sanctioned plans will show up on the plan finder tool.
  • Some plans will have premium “buy down” options where the plan buys down a portion of the member’s premium. Though not much is known about this change at press time, we do know that this is NOT the same as Medicare Savings Program. Contact the plan directly to see if you are eligible.

2017 Info Coming Soon

2017 Medicare premiums, deductibles and co-insurance amounts have not yet been released but are expected to be announced in November.

Preventive Care Important

One important thing that isn’t changing merits mention: Medicare’s preventive care program. Certain preventive benefits – including certain cancer screenings – are available at no cost to beneficiaries when provided by qualified and participating health professionals. The annual wellness visit provides beneficiaries with the opportunity to sit down with their doctor to discuss their health care needs and the best ways to stay healthy. It’s a benefit worth taking advantage of every year. ~



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