Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week.
A “processing error” by the Social Security Administration that occurred in January is causing some serious financial concerns for Medicare beneficiaries. Due to the error, requests that premiums be deducted from Social Security checks were not completed. As many as 250,000 Medicare beneficiaries are now being billed for five months of unpaid premiums as a result.
Why It Matters
The problem mainly applies to people enrolled in either a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C) or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D). Those affected have already started receiving bills directly from their plans and, in some cases, cancellation notices for failure of payment. These seniors now face the burden of finding the money to pay for these unexpected bills, which may be higher than usual to compensate for the unpaid premiums. There are also concerns for vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities on fixed incomes in particular, as this could result in significant financial hardship for them.
To ease the burden a bit, Medicare is requiring insurers to give enrollees at least two months from the billing date to pay and offer a payment plan to those who can’t afford multiple premiums at once. While the issue has been corrected and proper billing procedures are expected to resume sometime in the next month, this mishap may have sparked some confusion and doubt about the billing system.
More healthcare news to watch:
- Enrollment in standalone Medicare Part D plans dropped slightly in 2019 for the first time since the program started 13 years ago. Healthcare Dive.
- CVS is planning to bring more health services to communities with new “HealthHub” stores. ABC News.
- CMS announced a final rule allowing Medicare Part B plans to implement step therapy on new starts of Part B drugs. Policy & Medicine.
- In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards made changes to the pharmacy payment model with new pro-pharmacy legislation. NCPA.