In case you haven’t heard, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has begun sending out $250 checks to seniors who have hit the so-called Medicare “donut hole” for prescription drug benefits.
What is the Medicare donut hole?
According to DHHS, Medicare Part D provides prescription drug benefits to those on Medicare, but there is a $310 deductible. After the $310 deductible has been met, you have to pay 25% of the cost of your prescriptions until the total cost of medicines you have received in a year hits $2830.
Once you cross this limit, you are responsible for the entire cost of your prescription drugs until you hit the catastrophic coverage threshold — currently $6440. The uncovered portion between these limits is known as the Medicare gap, or the donut hole.
Who will get a check?
As part of the recent healthcare reform legislation, seniors who hit the Medicare donut hole will receive a $250 rebate check in 2010. An estimated four million checks will be sent this year.
Beginning in 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50% discount on prescription drugs, and the Medicare share of costs will continue to increase until the donut hole is entirely closed in 2020.
When will my check arrive?
The Medicare donut hole checks will be sent automatically when you hit the donut hole. They will be mailed from a Medicare contractor’s address in Wisconsin, and you don’t need to do anything to trigger the check. The first round of checks are going out this week, with additional checks being sent as people qualify through the remainder of the year.
Beware of scammers
Reports of scams related to these checks are already starting to surface. As noted above, these checks will be sent automatically. If you’re contacted by someone asking for information to help get your check processed, hang up on them and call 800-MediCare and report the incident to your State Attorney General and/or the FTC.