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Seniors Speak Out About What Part D Means to Them

There are about 42 million Americans with Medicare Part D insurance for their medicines. We have different health conditions, take different medicines, live in different states and are covered by hundreds of plans. There is something we do share, however: our understanding of the importance and value of Part D coverage to our health and well-being.

Let me be the first to share my story about how and why Part D helps me personally. Before I reached 65, the insurance coverage I had available to me had very limited benefits for medicines, and one of my medicines wasn’t even covered at all. It was stressful and very costly. Now, I have a plan that works perfectly for me, and all my medicines are covered. When I moved three years ago, I was even able to choose a plan that worked with pharmacies in my new neighborhood and still get the same value I had been receiving before.

Here are some other stories from your friends and neighbors around the country:

Doug from Minnesota first made the change to Part D during open enrollment in the fall of 2016, and noticed that the change saved him $26 a month, on top of not having a co-pay for visits to the clinic. In his own words, for him “drug costs are minimal.” Even better, he is able to fill his prescriptions from his local pharmacy and support their business. As he says, “Being from a small town of 800 people it is critical to support the local pharmacy rather than the mail order system.”

Then there is Claudia from Alabama. Claudia has seen just how helpful Part D can be at a couple of different points in her life. The first came during her mother’s illness. Part D was instated while her mother was sick and she was able to see first-hand the “huge difference” that Part D made in her mother’s care. Now that she has it herself, she is happy to have access to it, as it “can really save you money.”

Robert from New Hampshire is a lung transplant recipient, which he noted “has drastically changed my views about Medicare Part D.” He and his wife used to get insurance through work, but a sudden change in employment meant they had to find a new plan. Everything they found meant increased drug prices and shorter prescriptions for the medication Robert needed, but his insurance agent eventually recommended Part D, which provided every medication he needed, and on 90-day prescriptions instead of the 30-day ones offered by other plans. By Robert’s own estimates, he now saves between $2,500 and $3,000 every year, in addition to fewer trips to the pharmacy due to the increased prescription length.

These are just a sampling of the outpouring of responses we received when we asked people to speak out about how Part D has helped them. These and other stories demonstrate how Part D remains an essential piece to our good health and quality of life.



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Test your knowledge: How much do you really know about Medicare?

How many people are currently enrolled in the Medicare program?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. The correct answer is about 55 million.

At what age does someone become eligible for Medicare?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. The correct answer is none of the above.

How many parts does Medicare have?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. Medicare has four parts.

Who was the president of the U.S. when Medicare was enacted?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. Lyndon Johnson was president when Medicare was enacted.

Which president first proposed the idea of a national health insurance program?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. The correct answer is Theodore Roosevelt.

Which part of Medicare provides prescription drug coverage?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. The correct answer is Part D.

Who received the first Medicare card?

Correct

Correct!

Incorrect

Sorry, that is incorrect. The correct answer is Former Pres. Harry Truman.



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Tell Your Senators: Repeal IPAB to Protect Access to Medicare

There are only a few weeks left in December, which means Congress is working quickly to pass a number of resolutions before year’s end. But before they can return home for the holidays, they must protect seniors and vote to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

If you’re a new reader, you might not know that your access to quality health care is currently under threat by IPAB. IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act to decrease Medicare spending if growth exceeds a certain target. If this happens, a board of 15 unelected officials are given a broad-range of authority to make decisions about mandatory cuts to Medicare spending. Such arbitrary cuts to Medicare are unacceptable, especially considering that these bureaucrats are unelected and in no way accountable to voters.

Medicare is extremely important to seniors like us who depend on the program for access to the medicine and health care services we need. But IPAB threatens to come between us and our doctors by making potentially drastic cuts to our Medicare. In fact, IPAB isn’t even required to maintain quality health care when making these cuts! Now is the time to repeal IPAB and ensure that seniors have unfettered access to our doctors and coverage.

Time is running out! The House of Representatives has already acted to protect our Medicare and we urge those in the Senate to follow suit. Seniors must join together to stand up for Medicare. Let’s speak out and tell our Senators to repeal IPAB immediately before it harms seniors like us. To write your Senators, click here.



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The Different Parts of Medicare

Are you turning 65 this year? If you were born in 1952, this is an important year for you. Why? Because at age 65, you can now enroll in Medicare!

As I’m sure you already know, Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older. Medicare provides plenty of benefits, so you should be sure to enroll as soon as you are eligible. Don’t forget open enrollment is just around the corner and begins on October 15.

Before then, you might want to learn more about Medicare and what it can offer. For starters, there are four different parts of Medicare: Parts A, B, C and D. Check out our new infographic for information on these health care coverage options!

new-piktochart_22778752



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Older Americans Month 2017: Age Out Loud

In April 1963, after meeting with members of the National Council of Senior Citizens, President John F. Kennedy designated May as “Senior Citizens Month” – what would eventually become “Older Americans Month.” The month is used as a time to acknowledge the important role seniors play in the United States and highlight our impact on our nation’s history.

Since the era of Kennedy, every U.S. president has declared May as Older Americans Month. This year, President Donald Trump did the same and called upon all Americans “to honor our elders, acknowledge their contributions, care for those in need, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to older Americans this month and throughout the year.” Leading the celebration of Older Americans Month is the Administration for Community Living (ACL), who designed this year’s theme of Age Out Loud to “give aging a new voice – one that reflects what today’s older adults have to say.”

What better way to celebrate this year’s theme than to get involved and raise important issues surrounding seniors’ access to quality health care services like Medicare! As seniors, we are the most important voice in this fight, so it’s imperative we use our time and resources to speak out.

If you’re a new reader, you might not know that your access to Medicare is currently under threat by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This is a big problem for beneficiaries like you and me, as IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications. In honor of Older Americans Month and this year’s aptly-designed theme, I encourage all seniors to join together to stand up for Medicare. Our voices are imperative to winning this fight, so don’t be afraid to Age Out Loud!

To learn more about IPAB and Medicare, view our recent blog post here.



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Protect Seniors’ Access to Medicare: Support Repeal of IPAB

kane-reinholdtsen-145944Attention seniors! If you are like me and depend on Medicare for your health care services, now is an important time to be paying attention to what is happening in Washington, DC. It is expected that the Independent Payment Advisory Board, known as IPAB, could soon become a reality.

If you are a longtime reader, then you may already know about IPAB from our previous post. If not, here are the basics:

IPAB was established by the Affordable Care Act. If Medicare spending exceeds a certain level, then a board of 15 unelected officials are given a broad-range of authority to make decisions about mandatory cuts to Medicare spending.

This is a big problem for Medicare beneficiaries like you and me. These bureaucrats are unelected and in no way accountable to voters. They are required to make spending cuts, but not to maintain quality of care. This means IPAB could soon be determining what will be covered under Medicare – from treatments, to procedures, to medications.

And don’t be fooled by the fact that the president hasn’t appointed members to the board yet. Unfortunately, spending cuts are still mandated by law, so all of IPAB’s power is shifted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Proposed changes by IPAB or the HHS secretary can even bypass congressional approval. In this case, the future of health care for millions of seniors could be determined by just one individual.

Across the country, more than 670 organizations made up of patients, doctors, hospitals, employers and veterans are advocating for the repeal of IPAB. Additionally, there is bipartisan support from lawmakers to ensure IPAB never becomes a reality. However, time is running out. As seniors, we must join in and encourage Congress to repeal IPAB today. Our health depends on it.



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Tell Congress to Protect Our Medicare Today!

 

Attention seniors! Last week, an amendment was introduced that would dramatically alter our Medicare benefits. Should this amendment pass, costs for our prescriptions might rise and we could even be denied access to certain medicines prescribed by our doctors.

We know that 9 in 10 seniors nationwide are satisfied with their Part D coverage and that millions of seniors like us rely on Medicare for quality, affordable health care, so we must act NOW! Congress will consider this amendment this week. We need to speak out today to make sure our members of Congress know we won’t stand for this harmful proposal—our health is too important.

Make your voice heard and join me in telling the federal government to stop meddling in my Medicare! Sign the letter here: http://www.seniorsspeakout.org/speak-out/protect-seniors-access-to-medicare/
speakout1



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Goodbye 2016 – Hello 2017

It’s been a great year at Seniors Speak Out. We kicked off 2016 by speaking out to tell members of Congress why Medicare Part B is so important to us. By working together to write letters to Congress, we protected our essential access to health care.

We celebrated National Immunization Awareness Month, National Sarcoma Awareness Month, and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and even wished a Happy Birthday to 1951! As always, we also provided many tips for living a healthy and active senior lifestyle.

In the last few weeks we also shared resources to help with open enrollment and to assess your coverage.

As we say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017, we want to hear from you! Tell us what you would like to see on the Seniors Speak Out blog in 2017 in the comment section below. As always, thanks for reading!



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One Day Left of Open Enrollment

One day left! As you probably know, Medicare open enrollment ends December 7 so today and tomorrow are your last chances to change your plan for the upcoming year. Seniors Speak Out has some great resources to help you with the open enrollment process, such as the Fast Facts page, or 5 Tips for Open Enrollment, and of course the More Medicare Resources page.

A few more resources were added to the blog throughout open enrollment this year:

  • If you are changing your plan at the last minute this year or helping someone with their coverage, visit the 2017 Guide to Medicare Open Enrollment for questions to consider when assessing plans, such as preferred pharmacies, medication needs, co-payments and co-insurance fees.
  • A special guest post from longtime senior advocate, Bob Blancato, has open enrollment resources from our partner organization Medicare Today, including a helpful image that is being distributed to senior centers across America.

It’s not too late to assess your health care needs and change your plan for next year! There is one day left of open enrollment, so please look over the resources and posts mentioned above to make sure your health care coverage is meeting your needs!



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The Holidays Are a Great Time to Think About Your Health

Medicare open enrollment is here again until December 7.

It is an important opportunity to make sure that your Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage or Medicare Advantage Plan still meets your needs, as well as a chance to explore other options. But, as you go through this process, be sure to take a few extra minutes to review and update your health information, as well.

Do you have an up-to-date list of all the medicines you take? Are the dosages written down also? What about a list of the vitamins or other supplements you take? Do you regularly use any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like low dose aspirin? They need to be noted, too. So often, people forget to include supplements or OTCs when asked about medicines. Make sure your list is complete.

Next, you should have the names and contact information for all the doctors or other providers you see. Be sure to include why you see them or what they are treating you for.

Yes, it takes a little bit of time to get all of these facts and numbers up-to-date, but having them ready is a real convenience when you visit a new doctor and have to fill out forms, or if you are faced with an emergency and need information quickly. And you will need that list of medicines and dosages in order to review your prescription plan.

When Medicare Part D was first passed more than a decade ago, beneficiaries were encouraged to use the Thanksgiving holiday period—when families were likely to be together—to review their Medicare options and discuss them with their loved ones. And that idea is still an excellent one. But you don’t have to stop there!

Every person in your family, regardless of their age, should have a list of their doctors, any conditions they have, and any medicines. Everyone! So Thanksgiving is also a perfect time to urge your family to follow your good example!

Finally, don’t forget that the Seniors Speak Out website has many useful tools to help you with open enrollment! Be sure to check them out and share with your friends.