$250 checks being sent to Medicare beneficiaries

$250 checks being sent to Medicare beneficiariesEarlier this year medical beneficiaries who had hit the doughnut-hole gap in the program’s prescription drug coverage will now receive checks as the federal government on Thursday started sending out checks to 80,000 such beneficiaries.

It is estimated that about 4 million beneficiaries this year, including an estimated 64,000 in Minnesota hit the $3,610 gap and more checks will go out monthly.

The drug coverage gap will be eliminated by 2020 being the part of new federal health care overhaul.

According to a Medicare study of the 27.5 million Americans who got the drug benefit in 2008, about one-third of enrollees hit the gap.

A 50 per cent discount on brand-name and some generic drugs will be given under the new federal law to those who hit the coverage gap, in 2011. Until the gap ends in 10 years, this share would decrease gradually.

For low income groups there is no doughnut hole and for them prescription drugs are virtually free. $250 checks will not be sent to them.

To get the checks, the recipients don't need to do anything as the checks will come automatically a few months after beneficiaries hit the gap.

The Medicare officials and advocates have also warned that decline any offers of help in getting the $250 as they would be fraudulent and any such case should immediately be reported to Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or the Minnesota attorney general at 1-800-657-3787.