How will Medicare’s new Prescription Drug Coverage affect me?
For Anyone with Kidney Disease and Medicare.
What You Should Know about Medicare’s New Drug Coverage:
The following article appeared in Family Focus, Volume 14, No. 3, Summer 2005, published by the National Kidney Foundation.
You may have heard about the new Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (also called Medicare “Part D”). If you have Medicare, you can join a Part D plan. Your income, drugs you need, and plan choice will affect how much you save with Part D.
You may get for extra help through a “low-income subsidy.” If approved, how much you and your family makes will affect whether the subsidy pays all or part of your monthly Part D premium, your deductible, and how much your co-pay will be. You could pay as little as $1 to $5 per drug. If you have Medicare and Medicaid, SSI, or get help from your state paying Medicare premiums and you got a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), you do not need to apply for this extra help. Otherwise, you can apply for the subsidy at Social Security or your Medicaid office.
Medicare Part D can work with or replace your other drug coverage. If you have Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Part D will replace Medicaid starting January 1, 2006. If you have a Medigap plan, union, employer, or retiree plan, your plan will let you know how it compares with Medicare Part D. If it is at least as good as Medicare Part D and you wait to sign up for Part D, you can join later without paying a higher premium. But if your current plan is not at least as good as Part D, you may pay more for Part D when you join.
If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), take the time you need to choose the best plan for you. Think about what drugs you take now. Ask your doctor what drugs you should take to keep you healthy and what drugs you may need if you change treatments or your health changes. You will save more money with a “kidney friendly” plan—one that covers most of the drugs your doctor tells you. Medicare Part D will cover some that people with CKD may take including those for bone disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, and depression and anxiety.
Starting October 13, 2005, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov to see what Part D plans insurance companies offer in your area and what drugs they cover. You will have a choice of at least two plans.
This information has been provided by the Kidney Medicare Drugs Awareness and Education Initiative. The initiative is comprised of a group of more than 35 kidney organizations and companies who have joined forces to help people with kidney disease and the health care professionals who care for them understand the new Medicare benefit.
For more information, visit www.kidneydrugcoverage.org If you do not have access to the Internet, visit your local library or ask someone to look up information for you.
What are the symptoms of chronic kidney disease?
Most people may not have any severe symptoms until their kidney disease is advanced. However, you may notice that you:
- feel more tired and have less energy
- have trouble concentrating
- have a poor appetite
- have trouble sleeping
- have muscle cramping at night
- have swollen feet and ankles
- have puffiness around your eyes, especially in the morning
- have dry, itchy skin
- need to urinate more often, especially at night.
Anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age. However, some people are more likely than others to develop kidney disease. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure
- have a family history of chronic kidney disease
- are older
- belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians.