Three new prescription drug plans for Medicare beneficiaries

Plans will include zero deductible and low copayment options

CHICAGO—Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL), Consumer Markets division, has introduced three innovative Blue MedicareRxSM prescription drug plans that will offer a broad range of prescription drug options to Medicare beneficiaries. The three plans, also known as Part D plans, were recently approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Enrollment for these plans begins Nov. 15, and coverage first becomes effective Jan. 1, 2006.

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is the premier provider of Medicare Supplement plans in the state of Illinois, and we are dedicated to meeting the needs of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries,” said Peter Rodes, vice president, Consumer Markets, for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. “Our new plans are easy to understand, easy on the budget, and most importantly, easy to use.”

The three new guaranteed-issue Blue MedicareRx plans will help beneficiaries manage current and future prescription drug expenses. They offer a broad list of covered brand name and generic medications, and the convenience of an extensive pharmacy network that includes major chains such as Walgreens, Osco, Wal-Mart and most independent pharmacies. Plan members can simply show their Blue MedicareRx card at any one of BCBSIL’s participating pharmacies to access their benefits.

Additionally, the new plans can be paired with a Medicare Supplement plan for added flexibility and thorough coverage. While Medicare Supplement plans cover hospital and physician expenses, prescription drug plans add coverage for medication expenses.

The new Blue MedicareRx plans include:

Value plan ($0 deductible, $27.77 monthly premium): The Value plan includes a low 30-day retail copayment of $5 for generic drugs, $40 for preferred brand-name drugs and $59 for brand-name drugs. Members pay this copayment amount up until the point they reach $2,250 in annual drug costs.

Plus plan: ($0 deductible, $45.35 monthly premium): The Plus plan offers a low 30-day retail copayment of $3 for generic drugs, $20 for preferred brand-name drugs and $50 for brand-name drugs. Members pay this copayment amount up until the point they reach $2,250 in annual drug costs.

Standard government plan ($250 deductible, $27.56 monthly premium): The Standard plan includes a 25 percent coinsurance once the $250 deductible is met. Members pay this copayment amount up until the point they reach $2,250 in annual drug costs.

With all three plans, members pay 100 percent of prescription drug expenses once they reach $2,250 in annual drug costs. After their yearly out-of-pocket costs reach $3,600, they pay the greater of: $2 for generic or a preferred brand drug that is a multiple source drug and $5 for all other drugs, or 5 percent coinsurance. A 90-day mail order option is also available through Walgreens. Plan members who choose this option save one month of copayments.

“As the largest and most experienced health insurance company in the state, Blue Cross is a trusted name for millions of Illinois residents,” Rodes said. “We appreciate that trust, and we are committed to helping seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries better understand their coverage options. As a result, Blue Cross is conducting educational seminars throughout the state to educate beneficiaries about the new drug coverage options and deadlines. It’s important for beneficiaries to understand their options so they can select a plan based on their current and expected future prescription drug usage, as well as each plan’s formulary and pharmacy network.”

The initial enrollment period begins Nov. 15, and continues through May 15, 2006. BCBSIL will offer enrollment by phone, online, via mail, and through Blue Cross’ extensive statewide network of certified brokers who are available to assist beneficiaries with selecting a plan. Beneficiaries who do not enroll during this time period will be locked out of the program until Nov. 15, 2006. In addition, they will be assessed a 1 percent late enrollment penalty for each month they choose not to enroll. In subsequent years, enrollment will be available from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.

While enrollment doesn’t start until Nov. 15, seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries can call 888-285-2249 or visit www.bcbsil.com to order an enrollment kit or get more information about Blue MedicareRx.

For more information about Medicare prescription drug coverage visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227, TTY/TDD users call 877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

From the Nov. 2-8, 2005, issue

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