The lowdown on Medicare Part D

3/27/2013

The past couple of weeks, this column has covered health insurance for senior citizens. Medicare Part A is hospitalization insurance. Medicare Part B covers outpatient services. These two components cover 80 percent of medical costs. A Medicare supplement will cover most of the remaining 20 percent. That leaves prescription coverage known as Medicare Part D.

The past couple of weeks, this column has covered health insurance for senior citizens. Medicare Part A is hospitalization insurance. Medicare Part B covers outpatient services. These two components cover 80 percent of medical costs. A Medicare supplement will cover most of the remaining 20 percent. That leaves prescription coverage known as Medicare Part D.

Prescription drug coverage began in 2006. Coverage comes in four phases with exceptions to all phases. The first phase is the deductible. In 2013 the maximum deductible is $325 per year. However, some plans have no deductible or deductible amounts less than $325. The second phase of prescription drug coverage is when you begin saving money. Depending on which insurance plan you have purchased you could save 75 percent of the retail cost of your prescription. Costs vary among insurance companies, among classes of drugs, among pharmacies, etc.

Phase three of drug coverage is the famous "doughnut hole." You reach the doughnut hole when your retail expenses (not out-of-pocket expense) excluding premiums, reaches approximately $3,000. When Medicare Part D was new, this was the phase where you returned to paying 100 percent of the retail cost of your prescriptions. Over the years the coverage in the doughnut hole has improved and the doughnut hole is expected to be eliminated by 2020.

The fourth and final phase is catastrophic coverage where your costs at the pharmacy are approximately 5 percent of the retail cost.

This is insurance and like all insurance you pay a premium whether you use it or not. For the person who does not take any prescriptions or takes only a few prescriptions, it is possible that they would spend more to buy this insurance than if they did not buy the coverage. However, since it is insurance, you will have coverage if you need it. If you choose not to buy a plan when you first become eligible, you will only be able to sign up again during the next open enrollment (Oct. 15 to Dec. 7) with coverage to begin the first of the following year. Additionally, you will pay a 1 percent penalty for each month you were eligible and did not enroll and this penalty will continue for the remainder of your life.

To take the mystery out of searching for the proper insurance plan, we use a plan finder provided by Medicare.gov. Counselors are available to help understand these decisions. Call 272-3620 and request an appointment with a SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counselor of Kansas) counselor.

Next week, this column will cover Medicare Advantage plans.

Rides to airport

Effective March 1, Finney County Transit began providing transportation to Garden City Regional Airport. Make your booking early for pick up and drop off at your home by calling 272-3626 or stop by the Finney County Transit office at 1008 N. 11th St. Fare is $5 per person. The service is not available on weekends.

Thanks for help

Many thanks to the volunteers from Church of the Brethren, Jamie Hitchcock and Duane Riley who delivered Meals on Wheels last week.

Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, the TOPS Club will meet at 9 a.m., followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises start at 11 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m. Skip-Bo begins at 1 p.m. Zumba begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by yoga at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, the day begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Fiddlers, Pickers and Singers meet from 5 to 9 p.m.

Sunday is Easter.

Monday begins with walking at 8:30 a.m. The Humdinger Band practices at 12:30 p.m. Double pinochle begins at 12:30 p.m. Zumba begins at 5:30 p.m. Duplicate bridge starts at 7 p.m.

Tuesday has gentle exercises at 11 a.m. Pitch starts at 12:30 p.m. Bridge begins at 1:15 p.m.

April 3 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. Pinochle begins at 12:40 p.m. The regular Wednesday night dance featuring the Calhouns begins at 7:30 p.m. The recommended donation is $5.

Lunch menu

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Spaghetti and meat sauce, tossed salad, corn, French bread, mandarin oranges.

Friday: Baked fish, peas and carrots, winter mixed vegetables, wheat roll, cookie.

Monday: Meat loaf, au gratin potatoes, winter mixed vegetables, wheat roll, mixed fruit.

Tuesday: Roast turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, wheat bread, fruit gelatin salad.

April 3: Barbecue beef brisket on a bun, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, peaches.

2013 — Celebrating 35 years at the Senior Center of Finney County. Check out our website at www.seniorcenterfc.com.

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