Walgreens helps customers make sense of changes to Medicare Part D plans

DEERFIELD, Ill. — In an effort to help seniors navigate changes in Medicare Part D plans, Walgreens is offering a free plan comparison report to make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries and caregivers to determine how much money can be saved under different plans.

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D drug plans began Monday, and enrollees have until Dec. 31 to review their coverage options for 2011.

The report is available in minutes at any of the more than 7,500 Walgreens locations nationwide or online at walgreens.com/medicare. Pharmacy staff can generate a personalized report based on the individual's current medications, detailing each plan's estimated annual costs, including monthly premiums, branded and generic co-pays, and coverage through the coverage gap.

As part of healthcare-reform efforts, many current Part D plans will not be available in 2011. This means that about 3 million Medicare beneficiaries will need to choose another plan for next year, according to Avalere Health, a private research firm.

Another change will save Medicare beneficiaries money when they reach their coverage gap, or "doughnut hole." Seniors who reach the doughnut hole will get a discount of about 50% on most brand-name drugs and 7% on generics. The federal government estimated that the average Medicare Part D beneficiary who reaches the doughnut hole next year will save $500 because of these new discounts. Under healthcare reform, the Medicare Part D coverage gap will be phased out by 2020.

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