Qualifying Seniors Get Prescription Assistance

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

It's part of what's called the "donut hole" which falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Affordable Care Act.

The "donut hole" might sound familiar to seniors on Medicare who rely on prescription medications.

This happens to Medicare recipients who have exceeded their cost allowance.

Lillie Henderson with the area agency on aging group says when cost becomes a burden in the case of the donut hole, often seniors will break up their drug regimen to save money.

"You find many of them do without," said Henderson. "You find some dividing the pills, taking one in the morning, where they should be taking it more often."

To help recipients avoid this gap, a $250 rebate check will be mailed by the end of the year as part of the national Affordable Care Act.

This means about 5500 Mississippi seniors will be taken out of the donut hole.

"They are sending the $250 check to those persons who fall into the gap to assist them in getting their medications," said Henderson.

But after Dec. 31, 2010, this initiative will end. And next year, as part of the act, Medicare recipients will have the chance to receive a 50% discount on brand name medications, preventative screenings, like mammograms, and annual checkups.

"They're gradually closing the gap, and by 2020, there should not be a gap," said Henderson. "Everybody should be getting the same things."

But Henderson says the ultimate guard against falling into the Medicare gap is for seniors to focus on staying healthy and active.

"But this year, there's a lot of help placed on preventative care rather than waiting until the person becomes ill," Henderson said.

Nationwide, more than 750,000 seniors on Medicare have already received their checks this year.

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