Important prescription drug notice for
In 2003 President Bush signed the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement
and Modernization Act that established Medicare coverage for prescription
drugs. On January 1, 2006 Medicare will begin covering prescription drugs
under a new "Medicare Part D." For retirees covered by Medicare,
this change offers the opportunity to purchase prescription drug coverage
for a monthly premium.
This change is of particular interest to retirees covered under UnitedHealthcare's
policy GA-23111 Plan D which currently provides benefits for drugs. UnitedHealthcare
has announced that as a result of this new Medicare coverage, GA-23111 Plan
D will be terminating and coverage will be moved to Plan F. Plan F offers
the same medical and hospital coverage as GA-23111 Plan D without the drug
coverage. UnitedHealthcare will make this move automatically so retirees
will not have to do anything to keep their current medical and hospital
Retirees currently enrolled in GA-23111 Plan D who want to continue drug
coverage will have to enroll in Medicare Part D. All Medicare eligible
retirees should also consider enrolling in Medicare Part D.
Additional details about this new Medicare benefit will be mailed to
Medicare beneficiaries in October. However, here are some important facts
about the Medicare prescription drug coverage we think you should know:
- You will be eligible for Medicare Part D if you are covered under Medicare
Part A or Part B. Enrollment is voluntary, but there is a higher monthly
premium if you enroll late (after May 15, 2006).
- There will be a cost for the Medicare Part D coverage. If you meet
certain income levels, you may be eligible for a reduction in premiums,
coinsurance amounts, and deductible. If you think you might qualify for
assistance you should contact the Railroad Retirement Board office in your
area and ask for an application for a low income subsidy. You should do
this as soon as possible.
- Medicare Part D will be administered by private insurance companies.
You will have a choice of which company with whom to enroll. While some
of these companies will offer coverage everywhere in the nation, others
will be limited to certain regions. If you live in different areas of the
country during the year, you may want to choose a company that has a nationwide
- · Each company will have its own prescription drug plan. Each
plan will cover a Medicare-approved list of drugs - called a formulary.
The formularies may be different between plans but all must have Medicare
approval. You will want to compare the drugs you are currently taking to
each company's formulary to see which one best fits your needs. If you
take multiple drugs you may not find all your drugs on any single formulary.
If a drug you take is not on the formulary of a plan you like, speak to
your doctor about changing your prescription to a drug on its list.
- In addition to different formularies, each plan will have a different
network of pharmacies from which you must purchase drugs. Make sure the
network pharmacies, and other services like mail order, for the company
you like are convenient to you.
- Each company will negotiate lower prices with drug companies and pass
those discounts on to you. You will have the advantage of being able to
purchase your drugs at a discount even if you are paying the full cost
of the drug.
- You will be able to change plans once a year during an annual open
enrollment. There are other limited exceptions that may give you a right
to switch plans. For example, if you move out of the service area of your
current plan, you will have the opportunity to choose another plan that
serves your new area.
- If you enroll late, you will pay more. Enrollment for Medicare Part
D begins on November 15, 2005 and ends on May 15, 2006. If you are eligible
and do not enroll during this period, when you enroll later you will face
a late enrollment penalty of approximately 1 percent of the current premium
for each month you delay.
- More detailed information is on the way. In October, Medicare will
send you the 2006 "Medicare & You" handbook which will include
a list of all the plans available in your area. In addition, the companies
in your area will be sending you specific information about their plans,
including their list of covered drugs and network pharmacies. Information
will also be available through the Medicare web site at www.medicare.gov
and from www.MedicareRxInfoSource.com, a web site hosted by UnitedHealthcare.
- Oct. 1, 2005 - Companies will begin to release information about their
plans. Medicare will send you the "2006 Medicare & You" handbook.
- Nov. 15, 2005 - the first day you can enroll in a Medicare prescription
- Jan. 1, 2006 - The first day you can use your Medicare part D coverage.
If you have any questions about these important changes you can call
UnitedHealthcare's member services at 1-800-809-0453.
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