The open enrollment period comes at a time of extraordinary popularity for the Part D program. In a national survey of seniors commissioned this summer by Medicare Today, 89 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their prescription drug coverage while 85 percent said their Part D plan was a good value. Relevant to the current open enrollment period, seven of 10 seniors said they valued having a choice of plans.
Medicare Open Enrollment Period Begins;
Continues Through December 7
The Medicare open enrollment period has begun. From now through December 7, Medicare Part D prescription drug plan enrollees have the ability to review and change their coverage plans to ensure that their health and financial needs are met. Medicare Today has assembled a number of resources that Medicare beneficiaries and their families will find useful during this period.
Nearly Nine of 10 Seniors Satisfied with Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage, National Survey Finds
"Large Majorities Say Their Plan Is a Good Value, Feel Consumer Choice is Important Feature of Part D"
WASHINGTON – Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage continues to enjoy overwhelming approval among the nation’s seniors, according to a nationwide survey released today by Medicare Today. Eighty-nine percent of Americans age 65 and older are satisfied with their coverage and 85 percent say that they consider their Medicare drug plan to be a good value.
The survey of approximately 2,000 seniors - conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the nonpartisan Medicare Today alliance - also found 80 percent of seniors said their total out-of-pocket costs are reasonable.
Prior to the announcement of the survey results, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that average Medicare Part D monthly premiums will remain stable at $32.50 in 2016. Premiums have remained at approximately this level since 2011, another indication of program success
“Medicare Part D continues to be a program that achieves its mission, bettering the health and lives of millions of Americans who have affordable access to the medications they need,” said Mary R. Grealy, chair of Medicare Today and president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from all sectors of American healthcare. “This survey underscores that the structure of Part D, providing consumer choice and encouraging competition among plans, is delivering value to consumers.”
Other key findings in the survey include:
- Seven in ten seniors said having a variety of Part D plans from which to choose is important.
- Over 90 percent of seniors reported that their plan is convenient to use and that they understand how their plan works.
- Seventy-seven percent of beneficiaries said they feel fortunate to have their coverage and 71 percent reported greater piece of mind.
The survey was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of Medicare Today. Click here to view the full survey results.
About the Survey
Morning Consult conducted a national survey of 2,021 adults who are 65 and older and 1,792 seniors who have prescription drug coverage. The interviews were conducted online from July 8-13, 2015. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.
About Medicare Today
Medicare Today is a coalition of national and local organizations representing seniors, health care providers, employers, patients and consumer groups focused on providing beneficiaries with reliable information on the Medicare program and its benefits. Medicare Today was created by the Healthcare Leadership Council, an alliance of chief executives of the nation’s leading healthcare companies and organizations from all health sectors.
Statement by Mary R. Grealy, Chair, Medicare Today, on the 2015 Medicare Trustees Report
"No one wants a future in which the only ways to make Medicare financially secure are by reducing access or undermining healthcare quality.”
Today’s report by the Medicare Trustees is a sharp reminder that time is limited for policymakers to take prudent, responsible action to secure Medicare’s financial future for generations to come.
In spite of the successful efforts of multiple health industry sectors to significantly reduce Medicare’s per capita annual cost increases, the Trustees continue to project that Medicare will reach insolvency after 2030. So, according to these projections, today’s 50-year-olds who are beginning to think about their retirement years do not have assurance that Medicare will be a sustainable, affordable program after they reach 65.
Demographics, and the retirement of the baby boom generation, cannot be altered, but Medicare’s financial destiny can. The Congressional Budget Office has reported, for example, that injecting more consumer choice and market competition into the Medicare program can reduce both federal outlays as well as beneficiary out-of-pocket costs. We need to begin the debate now on how to structurally modernize Medicare so that there is ample time to enact and implement essential improvements before insolvency looms.
The Trustees Report also projects that Medicare spending levels could trigger action by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as early as 2017. This underscores the importance of repealing the IPAB provisions of the Affordable Care Act before that date arrives. IPAB, as structured, would result in arbitrary cuts to what Medicare pays for healthcare services instead of pursuing far-sighted reforms that strengthen the program’s value.
No one wants a future in which the only ways to make Medicare financially secure are by reducing access or undermining healthcare quality. The Medicare Trustees report tells us that this debate needs to begin immediately.
Over 500 Healthcare, Patient, Employer, Veteran Groups Call on Congress to Repeal Independent Payment Advisory Board
Letter to Capitol Hill Says IPAB, Once Implemented, “Would Be Devastating to Patients” and Will Shift Costs to Consumers, Employers
WASHINGTON – Over 500 national and state-based organizations, representing virtually every state in the union, have signed a letter to Congress calling upon lawmakers to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) provision of the Affordable Care Act, an entity they say would impair Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care and remove public accountability from the Medicare decisionmaking process.
The letter reaches Congress at a time in which bipartisan IPAB repeal legislation in the U.S. House – the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act” introduced by Representatives Phil Roe (R-TN) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) – currently has 220 additional cosponsors, a majority of the House.
IPAB is a board, comprised of executive branch appointees, which would be charged with making cuts to Medicare expenditures if program spending reaches a certain level established by statute. Once the Secretary of Health and Human Services implements the IPAB recommendations, the action is not subject to administrative or judicial review. If IPAB members are not appointed by the President, or IPAB does not act to cut Medicare spending within the law’s required timeframe, the board’s powers are automatically shifted to the HHS Secretary.
As the letter to Congress put it, “An unelected board without adequate oversight or accountability would be taking actions historically reserved for the public’s elected representatives in the U.S. House and Senate.”
The letter points out that IPAB must achieve mandated savings within a one-year time period. This means that, instead of pursuing long-term reforms to strengthen Medicare, IPAB would be more likely to achieve its targets by cutting payments to healthcare providers.
“This would be devastating for patients, affecting access to care and innovative therapies,” the groups wrote, pointing out that the number of physicians unable to accept new Medicare patients due to low reimbursement rates has been increasing. “IPAB-generated payment reductions would only increase the access difficulties faced by too many Medicare beneficiaries. Furthermore, payment reductions to Medicare providers will almost certainly result in a shifting of health costs to employers and consumers in the private sector.”
The letter concludes, “We strongly support bringing greater cost-efficiency to the Medicare program. We also advocate continuing efforts to improve the quality of care delivered to Medicare beneficiaries. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will achieve neither of these objectives and will only weaken, not strengthen, a program critical to the health and well-being of current and future beneficiaries.”
Among the more than 500 organizations signing the letter to Congress are the Healthcare Leadership Council, American Medical Association, Easter Seals, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Manufacturers, National Minority Quality Forum, Parkinson’s Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Vietnam Veterans of America.
Healthcare Leadership Council President Mary R. Grealy said, “The voices of this many organizations representing tens of millions of Americans, combined with a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, send a clear signal that the IPAB approach to addressing Medicare’s future is unworkable and unacceptable. We need to focus on bringing greater value and sustainability to Medicare, not arbitrarily swinging an ax that will do great harm to those who depend on this program.”
Medicare Today Launches “Seniors Speak Out” Online Resource Hub, Providing Tools for Healthcare Decision-Making
Visit SeniorsSpeakOut.org for Information on Medicare Part D
To help ensure that seniors, caregivers and advocates get reliable information and engage with one another on issues and best practices critical to older Americans, Medicare Today, an initiative of the Healthcare Leadership Council, has launched the “Seniors Speak Out” interactive website.
We understand that navigating and evaluating the health care landscape can be a challenge, which is why we’re making this online resource hub available ahead of the October 15th start of Medicare Part D Open Enrollment.
The new website will have tools to help seniors successfully evaluate Part D coverage options and enroll in the plan that best suits their needs, in addition to other health care and lifestyle tips and resources. The website also hosts advocacy tools to empower beneficiaries to make their voice heard to policy makers.
Medicare Resources and State Specific Information
The Medicare section of the site features facts and tips to assist beneficiaries with the open enrollment process, provides resources for seniors and caregivers, and details state-specific information on plans. Specifically, resources include:
- Fast Facts: Medicare Open Enrollment
- 5 Tips to Make the Most of Part D Open Enrollment
- For Your Information: Medicare Part D Extra Help Program
- More Medicare Resources
- Resources for Caregivers
- Map: Part D State By State
- Map: Find Help Near You
Healthy Living Insights
Seniors can visit the Healthy Living section for tips and highlights on aging and preventative care.
Part D Advocacy Tools
We also encourage visitors to proactively protect Medicare Part D by reaching out to members of Congress and engaging the @SeniorsSpeakOut Twitter handle to join the online conversation. Current advocacy tools include:
The recent news section is a one-stop-shop of what you need to know about senior health and Medicare.
The blog will not only share best practices, videos and other helpful materials, it will also feature Medicare beneficiary and senior advocate Nona Bear, who will share her experience and expertise surrounding Medicare and encourages you to do the same.
The website is intended to serve as an interactive online community to assist and connect seniors, so please share your experiences, give advice and let us know what additional features would be helpful to you.
New Survey Shows Nearly Nine of Ten Seniors Satisfied With Their Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage
75 Percent of Seniors Concerned About Reducing the Number of Part D Plan Choices Available to Them
WASHINGTON – A new nationwide survey of 65-and-older Americans confirmed overwhelming support of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, with 86 percent saying they are satisfied with their plans and similar numbers noting their premiums and co-pays are affordable.
The new survey also quantifies the importance of plan choice to seniors. 75 percent of respondents say it is important to them to have a variety of plans from which to choose, and 74 percent said they would be concerned about any moves to limit those choices.
Medicare Today chairperson Mary R. Grealy said the new survey underscores the importance of prudence in making changes to Medicare Part D that could undermine the program’s success.
“The Part D program has transformed the lives of millions of seniors. It’s widely seen as affordable, easy to use and a good value,” she said. “Policymakers should act with care before altering the structure that has made Medicare Part D one of the federal government’s most successful programs, one that advances the health of beneficiaries and is an ally to the pocketbooks of both seniors and taxpayers.”
Other key findings in the survey include:
- 86 percent of seniors say their Part D co-pays are affordable, with 85 percent saying the same of their monthly premiums.
- Two in three seniors (67 percent) say without Part D they would be unable to fill all of the prescriptions their doctors prescribe.
- 68 percent say they are better off today than they were before they had Part D coverage and 71 percent have greater peace of mind because of their drug coverage.
- Only 27 percent are aware of Medicare’s current ratings system for assessing plan quality, and only 38 percent are aware there are Medicare counselors in their state they can contact for assistance.
“The survey reveals that there is still work to be done in educating seniors on the tools and resources available to help them compare or switch plans if necessary,” said Mark David Richards, Senior Vice President of KRC Research. “It may be reassuring for seniors to learn that 81 percent of beneficiaries who have shopped around and decided to change plans said it wasn’t difficult to switch.”
These results come just a few months after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed regulatory changes to Medicare Part D that generated significant controversy, including a move to limit the number of Part D plans available. Following opposition from a wide variety of health care stakeholders concerned about availability and affordability of Part D coverage, CMS later announced it would not pursue action on several controversial provisions of the proposed rule at this time.
Medicare Today and KRC Research have conducted this survey annually since 2006. Full survey results can be found at www.medicaretoday.org.
About the Survey
KRC Research conducted a nationally representative (random-digit dial) landline telephone survey of 1,619 seniors 65 years and older with Medicare coverage, of which 601 have a Medicare prescription drug plan. The survey was conducted from June 25 to July 6, 2014. The margin of error for a sample size of 601 is plus or minus four percentage points.
Medicare Today Praises CMS for Responding to Patient Needs, Concerns on Part D Rule
CMS Decision to Not Move Forward with Key Provisions of Proposed Regulations Preserves Integrity, Efficacy of Medicare Prescription Drug Program
WASHINGTON – The Medicare Today coalition today commended the leadership of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for its decision to refrain from moving forward with certain provisions of its proposed regulatory changes to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. CMS, said Healthcare Leadership Council president and Medicare Today co-chair Mary R. Grealy, demonstrated its responsiveness to public concerns about the impact the proposed regulations would have on beneficiaries.
“We applaud CMS Administrator Tavenner for the agency’s sound judgment on this issue,” said Ms. Grealy. “It became clear in recent weeks that there were deep concerns among seniors, patient organizations and healthcare providers about the effect these changes would have on one of the federal government’s most successful programs. The health and lives of millions of Medicare beneficiaries have been strengthened by Part D’s accessible, affordable drug coverage, and the qualities that have made this program so effective need to be preserved.”
“We agree with Administrator Tavenner that there needs to be a continuing dialogue among stakeholders to make certain we’re taking the right steps to protect the health of current and future Medicare beneficiaries. We look forward to working with her and her leadership team at CMS to continue improving a program that is already fulfilling its public mission extraordinarily well,” Ms. Grealy said.
Proposed New Regulations Affecting Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage Raise Concerns for Beneficiaries
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued proposed regulations that would bring about significant changes to Medicare Advantage and to the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Organizations representing patients and healthcare providers are raising serious concerns about the proposed rules and how they will affect programs that have been extremely effective in strengthening patient health and containing taxpayer and beneficiary costs.These groups recommend strongly that the proposed regulations be rescinded and that they are prepared to work with CMS to develop more productive approaches that build on the strengths of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D without harming beneficiaries.
The Healthcare Leadership Council developed a group sign-on letter with 371 signatories asking CMS to withdraw the Part C-D Proposed Rule. The letter underscores that the rule would adversely affect healthcare costs and access for beneficiaries and undermine the stability of the Part D program. The letter can be found here. (The letter is featured in a February 26 advertisement in Politico, seen here.)
Concerned organizations are also communicating with Congress to make lawmakers aware of the ramifications of the proposed rule. A Facebook page, called Seniors Speak Out, has been established that will enable Medicare beneficiaries to communicate with their Senators and Representatives on the issue. The page can be found here.
Click here for a directory of useful resources regarding the proposed changes to Medicare Part D.
How to Enroll
Medicare "Part D" is a collection of prescription drug coverage plans. Finding the Medicare plan that best matches your needs and enrolling is simple.
To enroll call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to speak with a Medicare counselor. When you call, make sure you have on hand:
- A list of the prescription drugs you take, including the dosage and frequency
- Your Medicare ID card
- The name and phone number of your preferred pharmacy
The Social Security Administration can also provide assistance for those who qualify for additional help. Call 1-800-772-1213 to check your status. Learn More »
Medicare Drug Benefit Stories
- October 15, 2015
Medicare open enrollment period begins
- December 7, 2015
- Medicare open enrollment period ends
- January 1, 2016
Changes made during open enrollment period take effect
News | Medicare Tomorrow
- September 22, 2015 - Organizations to Participate in Medicare National Tele-Town Hall | Audio
- June 17, 2015 - Organizations to Participate in Medicare National Tele-Town Hall | Audio
- May 13, 2015 - Organizations to Participate in Medicare National Tele-Town Hall | Audio
- March 23, 2015 - Organizations Participate in Medicare National Tele-Town Hall | Latest on the upcoming Congressional Action | Audio
- October 30, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: Medicare and the Elections | Audio
- August 6, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit Annual Satisfaction Survey Results | Audio
- June 5, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall: CMS Releases Final Part D Rule | Details
- April 24, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D National Tele-Town Hall:
CMS Efforts to Alter Part D | Audio
- February 7, 2014 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Event Audio
- November 5, 2013 - Third Way releases paper, “How Medicare Part D Beat The Odds – And Why Policymakers Should Care” .
- October 23, 2013 - National Tele-Town Hall What's the Latest on Medicare? | Listen to event Audio.
- September 19, 2013 - National Tele-Town Hall Medicare Part D Rx Benefit Annual Satisfaction Survey | Listen to event Audio.
- July 25, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
- June 26, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
- May 23, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
- April 25, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
- April 25, 2013 - Over 500 Organizations Representing Patients, Healthcare Providers, Employers Urge Congress to Eliminate IPAB - letter to Capitol Hill Says Independent Payment Advisory Board would “severely limit Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care”
- March 21, 2013 - CMS Medicare chief Jonathan Blum touted improved drug adherence as a Medicare cost saver in an Inside Health article.
- March 21, 2013 - Organizations Participate in Medicare Part D Tele-Town Hall | Listen to event Audio
- March 20, 2013 - More Than 400 Innovative Medicines in Development For Top Chronic Diseases Affecting Older Americans-Two Reports Show Progress in Treatment Options for Chronic Disease. report | overview
Call: 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
About Medicare Today
HLC launched the Medicare Today program in November 2004 to reach out to Medicare beneficiaries who needed reliable information on how to get the greatest value from their Medicare benefits. Medicare Today administers the partnership of over 400 national and local organizations including American Academy of Family Physicians, and National Alliance for Hispanic Health.