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AARP Offers Tips for People Receiving Medicare Prescription Drug Rebate Checks


First checks to be mailed June 10

ANCHORAGE, AK -- With the first checks to be mailed on June 10, people in Medicare Part D who reach the prescription drug coverage gap (or “doughnut hole”) this year will automatically receive a rebate of $250 to help with their drug costs and other expenses.  As part of the new health care law, the rebate check is the first step in the gradual closing of the doughnut hole, which will help make prescription drugs more affordable for people in Medicare Part D.  Closing this gap has been a top priority for AARP members and all older Americans. 

“We have more than 5,000 Alaskans who fall into the doughnut hole each year,” said Ken Osterkamp, AARP Alaska State Director. “And we know that many more older Alaskans live in fear of reaching this expensive gap in their coverage.”

In the U.S., more than 3 million Americans fall into the doughnut hole each year.

Research shows that people who have trouble paying for their prescription drugs are more likely to skip doses or simply stop taking their medications, which can lead to more serious health problems and ultimately, higher long-term costs both for them and for our health care system as a whole. 

Starting in 2011, people who reach the doughnut hole will receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs.  By 2020, the doughnut hole will be eliminated entirely.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service plans to begin mailing the first group of rebate checks beginning June 10, 2010.  Checks will continue to be mailed as more people reach the doughnut hole in 2010.

Below are five facts people in Medicare Part D should know about the rebate check and their prescription drugs:

· Receipts can help you track your spending.  People in Medicare Part D who have paid more than $940 in out-of-pocket drug costs should automatically receive a check after reaching that threshold but you should save your receipts just in case.  If you think you’ve reached the doughnut hole and don’t receive your check within a few months, having your receipts handy will be helpful when talking to Medicare.

· Checks will be mailed automatically. Medicare tracks your drug costs for you. Once you reach the coverage gap, you will receive a check.

· Protect yourself against scams. If someone says they can help you get your check more quickly if you pay them a fee, immediately report this scam or any similar fraud to the police or to Alaska’s Attorney General’s office. Contact Alaska’s Attorney General at (907) 465-2133 or via email at attorney.general@alaska.gov.

You should also report any suspected scam to Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

· Your check will be mailed to the address Social Security uses to reach you. If you need to change your address, please call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer, a change of address may also be reported by calling or visiting your local Social Security office.

· You may be able to save on your prescription drugs.  By entering the name of each of your drugs, its dosage, and how often you take it into AARP’s Doughnut Hole Calculator (www.aarp.org/doughnuthole), you can see when you are likely to enter the doughnut hole.  This tool will also identify less costly drugs available in your Part D plan and will print out a personalized letter that will help you begin a conversation with your physician about switching to lower-cost alternatives.

Check www.aarp.org/getthefacts for more information on how the new health care law will affect you and your family.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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