Medicare Nation

How much would you pay out-of-pocket for a five day hospital stay on Medicare? The majority of people have no idea! The problem with Medicare is there is too much information. An overwhelming amount of information and not enough resources. Medicare Nation solves that problem by educating you on all things Medicare, because there are not enough resources out there! This podcast will educate you about the components of Medicare, the different categories of Medicare Plans and Medicare benefits. On other episodes I’ll interview expert guests in the health and wellness field, about diseases, Medicare issues and current changes to the Medicare program. Medicare Nation is dedicated to answering all your questions about Medicare. Expert information and insights regarding Medicare and you! Further information can be found on Don't Forget to SUBSCRIBE to the show! Give us feedback on Facebook!
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Now displaying: October, 2017
Oct 6, 2017

Hey Medicare Nation!

It's October, and that means it's Medicare season!

If you need help navigating the 2018 Medicare Advantage Plans or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, I'm available to help!

Go to my website......  and click on the "contact" button. Send me a short email of how I can assist you and I'll get back to you with details.


How many of you receive excess letters, brochures and booklets from Medicare insurance companies? I'm sure most of you do.

How many of you, in the past, have received an "official looking" postcard or letter, that you believed came from Medicare or the Social Security Administration...... only to find out it's a "scam?"  Again.....I'm certain many of you did.

Right now, many of you or your parents, have or will be receiving an actual letter from the social security administration, that is real! I'm's not a scam!

That's right...... in a joint venture to promote the Medicare Savings Program and the Extra Help Program, the federal government has been sending letters to Medicare beneficiaries, who may qualify for one or both programs.

The letter details the criteria to qualify for the programs, as well as how to apply for each program.

So..... what is the Medicare Savings Program?

The Medicare Savings Program is run by your State's Medicaid Program. The program assists those who can't afford Medicare premiums or Medicare deductibles, co-insurance and/or co-payments.

To qualify for a Medicare Savings Program, your "monthly" income and total "resources" (like money in the bank, stocks, annuities etc.) must be at or below the amounts the program has set as "The Threshold." 

The house you live in, as well as one car you own, does not count towards the "resource" level.

Let's take a look at those "thresholds" now.

Medicare Savings Program

2017 Monthly Income Limit:

Single Person


Married (living together)



2017 Total "Resource" Limit:

Single Person


Married (living together)


To apply for the Medicare Savings Program, go to the official Medicare website

or.... call Medicare and ask them for your State's Medicaid office telephone number (800-633-4227).

Now....let's take a look at the "Extra Help" program.

The "Extra Help" program is run by the Social Security Administration. 

Extra Help is a Medicare program that may help you or your parents pay Medicare prescription drug (Part D) deductibles, premiums, co-insurance and/or co-payments.

You must be enrolled in Medicare Part D to be considered for the Extra Help program.

You don't have to file two separate applications to apply for the Extra Help and the Medicare Savings Program.

When you apply for the Extra Help program, Social Security will send your information to your State Medicaid office, to see if you also qualify for the Medicare Savings Program.

If you don't want to apply for the Medicare Savings Program, you will need to indicate that on the application or advise the State Medicaid representative that you do not want to apply for the Medicare Savings Program.

Let's take a look at the criteria for the Extra Help program.

Extra Help Program

2017 Monthly Income Limit:

Single Person


Married (living together)



2017 Total "Resource" Limit:

Single Person


Married (living together)


To Apply for the Extra Help program, go to the official social security website -

or call Medicaid......800-772-1212 to ask for an application.

You can also go to your local Social Security office and wait in line if you'd like...... go here to find your local office -

That's it for today Nation!

I"ll see you next week with more Medicare information and resources!


Oct 1, 2017

2018 Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Cost Sharing

It's October folks! Medicare season has begun!

As of October 1st, licensed health insurance agents may begin speaking about 2018 Medicare Advantage Plans and stand-alone prescription drug plans.

If you have a relationship with a licensed health insurance agent, Medicare Specialist or Medicare Consultant, they will more than likely start contacting you about your current plan.

This is the time to discuss your concerns with your Medicare Specialist. You need to determine if all your prescription drugs are listed in the plan's 2018 formulary. 

You also need to determine what your 2018 monthly costs will be for all your prescription medications.

Ask yourself......."Have my out-of-pocket prescription drugs costs remained feasible on my current plan for 2018?"

If so..... that's great! If not, it may be time to take a look at a new stand-alone-prescription drug plan.

If you're on a Medicare Advantage Drug Plan, you will need to determine if your physicians are still in your plan's network and if your medical out-of-pocket costs are reasonable before you make any decisions.

It is important to remember........

Medicare Specialists cannot take an enrollment application from you .......BEFORE October 15th!

That is a Medicare Regulation! 

If a Medicare licensed agent tries to take a signed application from you PRIOR to October 15th.......


As a reminder........ NO ONE from Medicare will be knocking on your door or CALL you on the phone.

Medicare will send you mail from the Social Security Administration ONLY!

Any post cards or any letters with a return address from anywhere else on this Earth other than the Social Security Administration........ is not from MEDICARE! 

It is most likely a solicitation from an Insurance Agent trying to get your business. Throw it out!

Ok......let's take a look at the 2018 changes to Part D Prescription Drug Plans.

Annual Deductible 

The 2018 Maximum PDP Annual Deductible is $405.00.

That's an increase of $5.00 from $400.00 in 2017.

Starting January 1st of 2018....... if you are on a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan or Stand-Alone-Prescription Drug Plan...... that has a annual deductible, you will fit in one of two categories:

1. You will need to pay your annual deductible right away        prior to your plan's benefits kicking-in. 

As of January 1, 2018, when you hand in a prescription for a listed drug on your plan's formulary, you will be expected to pay the full cost of that drug or the listed annual prescription deductible, whichever is less.

For example, your stand-alone prescription drug plan has an annual prescription deductible of $405 on all tiers.

You hand in your first prescription for lisinopril, which is listed as a Tier 1 on your plan's formulary. The listed      co-pay for a Tier 1 drug on your plan is $2.00.

The total cost for a 30 day supply of lisinopril at your preferred pharmacy is $100.00. Since you have a $405.00 deductible, the cost for the 30 day supply of lisinopril  at $100.00 would be a lower out-of-pocket cost than the full $405.00 deductible. Therefore, you pay the $100.00 and deduct that amount from the $405.00 annual deductible, leaving you with a balance of $305.00.

You will pay $100.00 for February, March and April for your lisinopril and in May you will pay the remaining balance of your deductible, which is $5.00. Then, your prescription drug benefits will kick in and you will also pay your $2.00 co-pay.

Beginning in June, you will pay a $2.00 co-pay for your lisinopril for the remainder of the year. 


2. You will pay the annual deductible if and when you            "trigger" the deductible.

As an example, You would trigger the annual deductible if you requested a prescription for a drug that was a Tier 3, Tier 4 or Tier 5 on your Medicare Advantage Drug Plan or Stand-Alone Prescription Drug Plan.

If you requested a drug that was a Tier 1 or Tier 2 on that same plan, you would NOT "trigger" the annual deductible. Therefore, you would just pay the listed co-pay or co-insurance for that Tier 1 or Tier 2 prescription drug on your plan. we used lisinopril in the above example, in this case you would just pay your $2.00 co-pay for the 30 day supply of lisinopril starting right away in January.

This is because lisinopril is listed as a Tier 1 drug on your plan's formulary. You wouldn't pay an annual deductible, since you haven't requested a prescription that was a Tier 3, Tier 4 or Tier 5 drug.

You will continue to pay a $2.00 co-pay for your lisinopril for the remainder of 2018.

The next portion of cost-sharing under prescription drug plans is called the Initial Coverage Period (ICP)

During this portion of cost-sharing, the total amount spent during the Initial Coverage Period (ICP) is $3,750.00.

The costs of covered drugs are shared - 25% by the beneficiary and 75% by the plan.

If you do not have an annual deductible for prescription coverage, the maximum a beneficiary would spend out of pocket during the ICP is $937.50. The plan would pay the remaining balance, which is $2,812.50 ($3,750.00 - $2,812.50 = $937.50)

You pay your co-pays and/or co-insurance, which is placed towards the $937.50. The plan pays the remaining balance of the Medicare negotiated price for the prescription, which is applied towards the $2,812.50.

Once the total amount of your prescription drug costs (from your out of pocket costs and the plan's contributions) reach $3,750.00, you move into the next phase of cost-sharing.

The next phase of Part D cost-sharing is called, The Coverage Gap, or commonly known as the "Donut Hole."

During this phase, you will pay more for your prescription drugs.

You will pay 35% for Brand name drugs and 44% for Generic drugs.

Let's use Lisinopril again to look at the costs during the Donut Hole. 

We stated a 30 day supply of Lisinopril from a preferred pharmacy is $100.00. Lisinopril is a generic drug, listed as a Tier 1 on your plan. In the Donut Hole, you are required to pay 44% of the Medicare negotiated price for Generics. In this example, you would pay $44.00 for a 30 day supply of Lisinopril in the Donut Hole.

You are also paying a "Dispensing Fee," (about $1-$3 per drug) while in the Donut Hole.

If you have a Brand prescription drug that is listed on a Tier 3, Tier 4 or Tier 5 on your plan, you will pay 35% of the Medicare negotiated price, while in the Donut Hole.

Only True out-of-pocket (TrOOP) costs are counted toward the cost-sharing amount in the Donut Hole.

TrOOP costs are -

1. The drug costs paid by the beneficiary

2. A 50% discount on Brand-Name drugs that is provided by the drug manufacturer.

Payments made by the "plan" during the Donut Hole on Brand Name drugs DO NOT count toward TrOOP.

If you DO have an annual deductible for your prescription drug coverage, the amount you pay out-of-pocket for your deductible is applied towards the ICP of $3,750.00.

The maximum amount you would pay out-of-pocket during the Donut Hole portion of cost-sharing is $3,758.75

If the total cost-sharing amount reaches $3,758.75 in the Donut Hole phase, you will then move into the final phase of cost-sharing for 2018, which is called the "Catastrophic Stage."

In the Catastrophic Stage, you will pay reduced co-pays and or co-insurance.

You will pay either:

A 5% co-insurance or a $3.35 co-pay for Generic drugs or a $8.35 co-pay for Brand drugs.

You will pay whichever amount is greater.

Let's use our example of Lisinopril one more time. With a total cost of Lisinopril being $100.00, a 5% co-insurance would be $5.00.

With $5.00 being greater than $3.35 for Generic drugs, you would pay $5.00 for the 30 day supply of Lisinopril.

You will remain in the "Catastrophic Phase" until January 1, 2019, when the slate is wiped clean and we start all over again.


I hope that answers your questions regarding changes to Prescription Drug Costs for 2018.

If you have a question, and I can answer it in ONE paragraph or less, send me an email to -

I'll be happy to answer your question.

If my answer requires more than one paragraph, or I need to research an answer....... you will need to hire me as a consultant to assist you.

Go to this link and request a consultation from the "contact" tab.

That's it for this week's show!

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Have a happy, peaceful and prosperous week everyone!