Get With the Program to Save Money on Prescription Drugs – Medicare Redlands CA

cheap-prescription-drugsSaving money on prescription drugs is top-of-mind for many people with Medicare. You may know the main ways to save money, like switching to generics. But there are also quite a few programs out there specifically designed to help cut prescription costs for you or someone you love. Check out the following to see if one of these options might work for you.

Putting Your Plan to Work for You

Do you have Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage—either in a standalone plan or as part of a Medicare Advantage plan? If so, you likely chose the plan that would help you keep your prescription drug costs as low as possible. But there are a few simple tips that may help you save even more.

  • Pharmacy Networks. If your Medicare prescription drug plan has a pharmacy network, be sure to use it. Network pharmacies could offer you extra savings and big discounts. Your plan might also have a special arrangement with certain pharmacies that could mean additional savings when you need to fill your prescriptions.
  • Mail service Pharmacies. Many Medicare plans offer a mail-order pharmacy service. Copays are generally pretty low, and you could save even more by ordering a 90-day supply of your drugs at one time. As an added bonus, you get your medicines delivered right to your mailbox—so no waiting in line at the pharmacy.
  • Prescription Drug Discount Program. Your Medicare plan might offer a prescription drug discount program. This could be a separate program from your plan benefits, or it might be included in membership. Check your plan information or call your plan’s customer service number to find out more.

Giving Your Savings a Boost

It might be worth it to take a look at other programs that can help you lower your drug costs but might be offered outside of your plan’s prescription drug coverage. If you think this might be worthwhile for you or someone you love, there are a number of programs that might meet your needs. Be sure to check with your plan before signing up for another savings program, so you can find out about any restrictions or requirements up front.

  • Pharmacy Discount Programs. Some pharmacies offer discount programs to regular customers. If you think this might be a possibility for you, a good first step is to talk to the pharmacist. He or she should be able to let you know about any discount programs—and if they’re available to Medicare recipients.
  • Prescription Discount Cards. Some private companies offer cards that help people save money on their prescription drugs. Most times, you’ll pay a small yearly fee to get the card, which is usually good at a wide range of pharmacies. If you’re interested in a prescription discount card and your plan gives you the “green light” to get one, you can generally find the most popular ones online. Your pharmacist may also be able to help you find a discount card from a trustworthy company.
  • Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs (PAPs). Brand-name drugs can be expensive. To help offset some of the cost, many drug companies have programs that offer discounts on the drugs they make. To find out if the company that makes your drugs has any such programs, call the drug company or visit the PAP page.
  • State Prescription Discount Programs. The state you live in may offer additional prescription drug discount programs. To find out more, contact your state’s Department of Health and Human Services or State Pharmacy Assistance Program (SPAP). You can also call the Medicare helpline or visit

Extra Help

If you’ve tried other options and are still struggling, or if your financial situation has changed since you enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan, it might be worth looking for Extra Help. Extra Help is a Medicare program that helps people with limited income and resources pay Medicare prescription drug costs, including premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.


–This information is provided by Medicare Made Clear – If you or someone in your family is 65 or older and is in need of a Medicare Supplemental Plan or already has a plan, but wants to make sure that it is the right plan please give us a call (888)891-5557 or go to our website  and we will give you a quote and help you keep money in your pocket.

Medicare Part A: The Ins and Outs of Hospital Coverage

Hospitalizations are often followed by a barrage of bills and statements. Only the initiated can hope to understand them. This is when energy is needed for recuperation, recovery and care-giving. You don’t want to spend it figuring out what’s covered and what’s not. So here’s a little primer on Medicare Part Ato help you prepare ahead of time.

 Part A covers hospital care, but…

Did you know that you can spend the night in the hospital and not be an inpatient?

It’s true. This is important because it can affect how much you may pay out-of-pocket for your hospital care. It can also affect whether Medicare will pay for any skilled nursing care you may need afterward.

You are an inpatient only after you are admitted to the hospital by doctor’s orders. If you are in the hospital for observation, for example, you may or may not be admitted.

You must be in the hospital at least three days to qualify for covered follow-up care in a skilled nursing facility. Your last day in the hospital is the day before you leave. The day you go home doesn’t count.

When you are in the hospital, it’s important to ask whether you have been admitted.

Part A charges a deductible, and…

The Part A deductible, $1,156 in 2012, is charged per benefit period. A benefit period begins the day you go into a hospital or skilled nursing facility. It ends when you have been out for 60 days in a row.

You may be in the hospital more than once during one benefit period. For example, you may leave the hospital and then be re-admitted. If you’re re-admitted within 60 days, then it’s the same benefit period. In this case, your coverage continues. If you are re-admitted after 60 days, it’s a new benefit period. You will be charged another deductible. There is no limit on the number of benefit periods that Medicare will cover.

Part A fully covers 60 hospital days, then…

After the deductible, you pay $0 for up to 60 days of hospital care during one benefit period. If you are in the hospital for more than 60 days, then you will start to be charged a copay.

You must pay a copay for hospital days 61 through 90 during one benefit period. In 2012, the copay is $289 per day.

Starting with day 91 in the hospital, you can begin to draw on your “lifetime reserve days.” Lifetime reserve days are like a “bank” of extra hospital days covered by Medicare. You have 60 extra covered days in your “account” that you can use over your entire life. You must pay a copay for the lifetime reserve days you use. The copay is $578 per day in 2012.

Here’s one final note about coverage. Most doctor services are covered by Medicare Part B, even when you’re in the hospital.

Part A is premium-free, if…

Most people qualify for premium-free Part A benefits. You qualify if you or your spouse paid into Social Security for at least ten years while working. If you don’t qualify, you will have to pay a premium. In 2012, you will pay up to $451 a month. If you don’t sign up for Part A when you are first eligible, you may be charged a penalty.

–This information is provided by Medicare Made Clear – Are you a senior age 65+ looking for Medicare Supplemental Insurance? Call 909-790-7748. We will explain your options and find the right plan for you.


Save With Your Medicare Plan – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists the Beaver Medical Group in Redlands. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire.

Medicare Plans and Cost Sharing: How to Compare Out-of-Pocket Costs

Out-of-pocket costs may be a factor for many people when choosing a Medicare plan. Yet estimating these costs and comparing them between plans can be confusing.

Cost-sharing varies among plans. You may have to compare costs between a plan that charges a copay when you see a doctor and one that charges coinsurance, for example. In addition, some plans may charge premiums and deductibles, and some don’t.

So what do you do?

Step 1: Understand the Cost of Original Medicare

Most people start by looking at Original Medicare, which is administered by the federal government. Coverage and cost-sharing terms are the same for everyone, no matter where you live. Costs for plan year 2012 are summarized in the table.

  Original Medicare Part AHospital Coverage Original Medicare Part BDoctor and Outpatient Coverage
Premiums Premium free for most people; $451 per year if charged Depends on income; ranges $99.90 to $319.70 per month
Deductibles $1,156 per benefit period* $140 per year
Copays Hospital (per day)Days 1-60: $0

Days 61-90: $289

Days 91+: $578**

Skilled nursing facility (per day)

Days 1-20: $0

Days 21-100: $144.50

Days 101+: 100% of costs

Outpatient prescriptions for pain and symptom management during hospice: $5.00

Outpatient hospital services: varies and, for a single service, can’t be more than the inpatient hospital deductible ($1,156)
Coinsurances Durable medical equipment used at home: 20%  Doctor services: 20%Outpatient therapy: 20%

Durable medical equipment: 20%

Hospital doctor services: 20%

Outpatient mental health care: 40%

* A benefit period begins the day you go into a hospital or skilled nursing facility and ends when you’ve been out for 60 days in a row.

** After you use 90 hospital days in one benefit period, you can begin drawing from the 60 lifetime reserve days available over your entire life.

Step 2: Add the Cost of Prescription Drug Coverage and Medicare Supplement Insurance

Original Medicare does not include prescription drug coverage (Part D) and so many people purchase it separately. Part D premiums depend on the type of coverage you choose, for example a standalone Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug benefit. Individual plans may charge a monthly premium and most also charge a copay per prescription.

Many people also choose to add a Medicare supplement insurance plan (Medigap) to help pay some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. There are ten standard plans and each has its own cost-sharing terms. Not all plans are available in all states.

Medicare prescription drug plans and Medicare supplement insurance plans are offered by private insurance companies. You can find and compare the plans available in your area at

Step 3: Compare the Cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan

Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. Offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare, these plans combine the coverage of Part A and Part B. Most also include prescription drug coverage and offer extra benefits like wellness, vision, dental and hearing care—all in one plan.

Cost-sharing terms vary by plan, and the plans offered vary depending on where you live. You need to find plans in your area and compare their costs to each other and to Original Medicare. In general, with a Medicare Advantage plan:

  • You continue to pay your Part B premium to Medicare. Your plan may or may not charge an additional premium.
  • You may have deductibles, copays and coinsurances, as defined by each plan.
  • Your plan must provide an out-of-pocket cost limit. With any Medicare Advantage plan, the maximum you will pay in 2012 is $6700. There is no limit with Original Medicare.

Not Always Apples to Apples

Medicare plan coverage and cost-sharing terms vary widely. It’s a good idea to look at all your choices. It may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, but with a little effort you can determine the best choice for you.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear – Turning 65 ? Looking for reliable Medicare Insurance? or Looking to get better rates. The Litchfield Insurance Agency assists the Beaver Medical Group in Redlands. Whether it be Medicare, Health, Life. We will find the right plan for you. Serving Redlands, Banning, Yucaipa and the Inland Empire

Call 909-790-7748. We will explain your options and find the right plan for you.

How to Tell if Your Medicare Plan is Right for You

How well is your Medicare plan serving you? Maybe you’re new to Medicare, or you switched plans

during last year’s Annual Enrollment Period, or you’ve had the same Medicare coverage for years. No matter. Change is constant, and you need to pay attention to the ways your plan works for you and the ways that maybe it doesn’t.

First, it’s important to take advantage of all the benefits that Medicare offers. For example, all beneficiaries, regardless of the plan they have, are entitled to certain preventive care and services. In addition, the basic coverage offered by Original Medicare Parts A and B must be offered by all Medicare Advantage plans (Part C). Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer extra coverage for vision, dental and hearing care, prescription drugs and more. Read your plan materials to make sure you understand all that is available to you.

Next, you may want to check in with yourself on how well your plan benefits meet your needs over the year. If you find that your plan is lacking and, in the process, learn what you need, then you can prepare to make an informed choice during the next Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (October 15 to December 7, 2012).

Here’s a checklist that can help you assess your experience as you use your plan benefits. You may want to keep it handy and complete it every few months. Place a check by the statements that are true for you. The more checks, the better your Medicare plan is working for you. The fewer checks, the more likely it is that you may want to choose a different plan next time.

My Medicare Plan Coverage

My Medicare Plan Coverage

My Medicare Plan Cost

My Medicare Plan Cost

My Medicare Plan Convenience

My Medicare Plan ConvenienceMy Medicare Plan Satisfaction

My Medicare Plan Satisfaction

Choosing a Medicare plan is not a “get and forget it” action. It’s important to monitor your coverage, costs, convenience and satisfaction as you experience using your plan benefits.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear – Are you a senior age 65+ looking for Medicare Supplemental Insurance? Call 909-790-7748. We will explain your options and find the right plan for you.

Have a Healthy New Year. Plan preventative care and health screenings now.

The new year is a great time to think about your health. Are you due for a screening, like a mammogram or colonoscopy? Is there something you want to do this year to get healthier, like stop smoking or improve your diet? Are you feeling healthy, and just want to make sure you stay that way? Medicare covers a number of preventative and wellness services—whether you belong to Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan—that can help you have a healthy new year.

Wellness visits. One wellness visit is covered every 12 months for Medicare beneficiaries. Print this Preventative Services Checklist; you can track the Medicare-covered tests and screenings you’re eligible for and take a report to your next appointment.

Breast Cancer or Prostate Cancer screenings. All women age 40 and older can get a breast cancer screening mammogram covered once every 12 months. One baseline screening is covered for Medicare-eligible women ages 35 to 39. Men age 50 and older are eligible for one prostate cancer screening every 12 months.

Colon cancer screening. All Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for a screening colonoscopy. All other types of colorectal screenings are available to people with Medicare age 50 and older.

Smoking cessation. Medicare will cover 8 face-to-face smoking cessation visits during a 12 month period. These visits must be provided by a Medicare-recognized practitioner.

Medical nutrition therapy. Medicare covers nutrition therapy services for people diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease. Therapy covers a nutrition and lifestyle assessment, nutrition counseling, follow-up visits and more.

Flu shots. Medicare covers one flu shot per season in the fall or winter  when given by a Medicare recognized health care provider.

Depression screening. One depression screening is covered per year for Medicare beneficiaries.

These are just a few of the preventative health care services that are covered by Medicare. There is a complete list of preventative services on Medicare’s website.

If you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plan, read your benefit details. Some plans offer additional wellness benefits like gym memberships or discount programs on prescription medications.

Before you receive any health care service, make sure you are seeing a Medicare-recognized health care provider that accepts Medicare assignments. Find and compare doctors, hospitals, plans and suppliers.

5 Ways the Affordable Care Act Changed Medicare for 2012

From prescription drugs to preventative services that are free. See the new changes in Medicare for 2012.

Some of the most important changes in Medicare for 2012 are due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here are five key things you should know about the ACA and your Medicare coverage.

1. Your prescription drugs will be more affordable.

The Medicare Part D coverage gap is shrinking over time. This means you’ll pay less out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each year during the gap than you paid the year before. The gap is on course to close in 2020. In 2012, you will pay 86% of the cost of generic drugs and about 50% of the cost of most brand-name drugs during the coverage gap.

2. You’ll get even more preventive services for free.

Everyone with Medicare has access to a variety of preventive services. These services are free, which means there are no copays or cost sharing for you. Preventive screenings and services include colorectal cancer screening, mammograms, bone density tests and more. You can also get a free yearly wellness visit to develop and update your personal prevention plan based on current health needs.

3. You and your doctors can more easily manage your health care needs.

The ACA offers your doctors a robust network of support and resources to help them focus on your specific health care needs, helping you to return home from hospitalizations successfully and to avoid a return trip. Your care will be better coordinated, and you’ll be connected to services and support in your community.

4. Your Medicare Advantage plan will work harder for you.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, the ACA makes sure you will be protected from large premium increases and benefit reductions. Medicare reviews changes to your plan before they happen to stop the ones that are unreasonable. Also, beginning in 2012, Medicare Advantage plans that achieve a rating of three stars or more from Medicare’s quality rating system will be paid a bonus. This means Medicare Advantage plans have even more reason to improve the quality of care you receive.

5. You’ll have expanded access to care.

The ACA ensures that you will have more primary care doctors, nurses and physician assistants available to you. You can still choose your doctor—you will just have more options.

–This information was provided by Medicare Made Clear – Are you a senior age 65+ looking for Medicare Supplemental Insurance? Call 909-790-7748. We will explain your options and find the right plan for you.

How much does Medicare cost and how does cost sharing work?

Turning 65 and New to Medicare

Four words you need to know

Understanding how Medicare shares costs is a big part of choosing the right Medicare benefits. You’ll see four words over and over again on this site that have special meaning in Medicare. Mastering them will pay off.

  • Premium
  • Deductible
  • Copay
  • Coinsurance

These are names for different ways that Medicare shares the cost of your care with you. Medicare’s reasoning is simple: If you pay some of the cost of the health care you use, you will use it more carefully. And you’ll be encouraged to do things that help keep you healthy and that may reduce your need for medical care.

Medicare costs: You pay a share of your coverage.

1. Medicare Premium

Your premium is the fixed amount you pay to participate in Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) or a Medicare plan offered by a private insurance company. Most Medicare premiums are charged monthly.

Cost sharing: You pay part of the amount and Medicare pays the rest

2. Medicare Deductible

Your deductible is the set amount you have to pay before your plan will pay the rest.

3. Medicare Copayment

Your copayment is the fixed amount you pay, like $10, for a service or product. Some people call this a “copay.”

4. Medicare Coinsurance

Coinsurance is splitting your health care costs with the plan on a percentage basis. For example, you pay 20%, and the plan pays the remaining 80%.

Important: It’s easy to focus only on your monthly premium when you compare plans. But you should also look at your other plan expenses like annual deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

For example, a plan with a lower monthly premium might cost you more over the course of the year because you have to pay a large deductible or you have a higher copay for your prescriptions.

Remember that the Medicare premiums, deductibles and copays shown in this guide are accurate for 2011, but may change from year to year.

– This information is provided by Medicare Made Clear

If you or someone in your family is 65 or older and is in need of a Medicare Supplemental Plan or already has a plan, but wants to make sure that it is the right plan please give us a call (888)891-5557 or go to our website and we will give you a quote and help you keep money in your pocket.

George C. Litchfield
CA Insurance License # 0B56846
Litchfield Insurance Agency