The year Medicare approved tranquilizer coverage, it spent an estimated $377 million on prescriptions for the drugs. While congress originally outlawed the coverage of these drugs, pressure from patients and medical societies caused the reversal of this law in 2013 under Medicare Part D.
Although these drugs were not covered until recently, it is evident that patients were simply finding other ways to pay for the prescriptions. For example, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin were among the most common prescribed medications in 2013.
As seniors represent the largest demographic on Medicare, the fact that they are on these tranquilizers is cause for concern among some health professionals. Although the drugs are fast-acting, they are habit-forming and have lasting effects in older users. The American Geriatrics Society discourages their use among seniors for symptoms such as insomnia, delirium, or agitation because of the risks involved. Instead, these tranquilizers are intended for use to treat seizures, end-of-life care, withdrawal, and severe anxiety.
Dr. Brent Forester, a geriatric psychiatrist at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, claimed that he doesn’t use tranquilizers, or benzodiazepines as a “first-, second- or third-line treatment because we see more of a downside than the good side.” Forester states that in reference to the wrongful, long-term use of tranquilizers as a replacement of anti-psychotics and to sedate patients.
What’s more, researchers recently found that the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease increased the longer the patient took benzodiazepines. Bear in mind, experts remind you that these drugs are meant to be taken for a short period of time, not long term.
Benzodiazepines were among the highest prescribed in Florida and Alabama with 158 and 136 doctors, respectively. Each doctor on the list represents a physician who wrote at least one thousand prescriptions of benzodiazepines. The combination of narcotics and these drugs can potentially be deadly.
As a new or seasoned Medicare patient, you likely have many questions about what your plan does or does not cover, and what updates will affect you. Please contact your licensed insurance agent at Omaha Insurance Solutions at (855) 367-3631 for answers to your pressing concerns.
I learned to sing the alphabet before I learned to say it, and from that humble beginning, language opened up to me.
You can’t understand language without first understanding its alphabet. Medicare has a language, and Medicare has an alphabet. It begins with A, B, & D. They are the three essential components of Medicare.
A is for Medicare Part A. A covers the hospital 100% for 60 days but only after you pay a $1,260 deductible out of your pocket. Ouch! Part A is free because you paid for it during your working years. Eligibility for A is 3 months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, & three months after. If you don’t enroll then, there will be a penalty.
B is for Medicare Part B. B covers doctor visits and outpatient procedures, such as, blood work, x-rays, emergency room, ambulatory surgeries, walkers, wheel chairs, oxygen tanks, etc. Part B does cost something. Currently $104.90 per month. Medicare Part B pays 80% of the costs. Your portion is 20%. Important fact about your 20% co-insurance is that there is no cap. As long as the bills roll in, your money rolls out. Bigger Ouch! The penalty for late enrollment for Part B is 10% for every 12 month period.
The final letter is not C. It’s D—D as in drugs. Medicare Part D was started in 2006 after people complained about the crushing cost of medications. Prescription drug plans are administered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) can range in cost from $20–$50 per month with deductibles and co-pays. There is a penalty for not enrolling in a Part D plan when you are eligible. It accrues each month you are not enrolled and is permanently added to your Medicare premium when you do enroll.
Medical expense can be astronomical. If the correct insurance is not in place with sufficient coverage, costs may surprise and overwhelm you. Not following the eligibility requirements could result in surprise penalties and permanent costs from Medicare. Call 402-614-3389 or email us at info@OmahaInsuranceSolutions.com for a free consultation to make sure all your letters are in place.
Markets are constantly changing. The Wednesday and Sunday additions of the Omaha World Herald are full of ads and fliers. Stores publicize sales, put up posters with markdowns, advertise deals, and promote special events. Prices and products are constantly changing. The market place does not stand still.
The insurance and Medicare market is no different. Aetna announced a 37 billion dollar bid with a capital B for Humana this week. Anthem Blue Cross is in talks about acquiring Cigna. Centene Corp agreed to buy Health Net Inc for $6.3 billion. The insurance landscape is changing.
These are big players, so when they move, the Medicare market will be affected. Some will argue that consolidation will reduce costs. Others will say that bigger and fewer insurance companies means monopolistic pricing. How it plays out is yet to be seen. Analysis will fill up hours of television and radio time with speculation about the Medicare market. The reality is insurance products, including Medicare supplements, will change. The changes will come primarily in the form of prices.
An endless list of variables go into Medicare supplement premiums. Creating and administering a Medicare Supplement product costs something. Medical claims come out of the premiums collected, so the premium needs to be high enough. In the end, the company must generate a profit for the shareholders. Otherwise, there is no point and the company’s assets will be sold off.
To generate those profits, the company needs to acquire clients. That is done in a number of ways. Slick advertising and marketing campaigns get prospects in the doors. Have you ever received any mail from an insurance company? During open enrollment (Oct 15th—Dec 7th), the Medicare commercials are like political adds at election time. They are endless. You can’t wait for them to stop.
The other way that insurance companies get prospects in the door is price. But how low can a company price the product? In other words, how lean can the company run its operation and still make a reasonable profit? If they guess wrong on pricing, it could be devastating for everyone involved—clients, employees, and shareholders.
If they lower the price too much and cannot meet claims and expenses, the company will be forced to raise premiums and drive away healthy clients. If they are too high, they will not have enough clients to create an adequate pool to assume the risk. Claims could further drive up costs and cause the company to raise premiums even higher.
So, like oranges, asparagus, and lettuce, the price of supplements are in a state of constant flux. Some of the factors are age. Price goes up with age. Rate increases are announced by the company because medical costs go up. And sometimes, there is even an occasional decrease.
Who is your shopper? Who will let you know what is happening in the Medicare market place? Who can find the lowest price supplement for you? I am Chris Grimmond the found of Omaha Insurance Solutions. I have worked for and with insurance companies for 13 years. I understand the Medicare market and how it works. We will shop your Medicare supplement and make sure you always have the best value for your dollar 402-614-3389