Saturday, December 06, 2003

The large print giveth and the small print taketh away:

Medicare beneficiaries will not be allowed to buy insurance to cover their share of prescription drug costs under the new Medicare bill to be signed on Monday by President Bush, the legislation says.

Millions of Medicare beneficiaries have bought private insurance to fill gaps in Medicare. But a little-noticed provision of the legislation prohibits the sale of any Medigap policy that would help pay drug costs after Jan. 1, 2006, when the new Medicare drug benefit becomes available....

Congress began regulating the Medigap market in 1990, as a way to protect consumers, many of whom had bought duplicative policies. The federal government and state insurance commissioners developed 10 standard policies, to replace thousands then on the market.

Three of the 10 Medigap policies cover drugs. Under the legislation, an old policy with drug benefits could be renewed — but only by a person who chose to forgo the new Medicare drug benefit. A person who enrolls in the new program could not buy or renew a Medigap policy to help defray drug costs....

--New York Times

If this bill affects you in any way, do yourself a favor and read the whole article. It describes a few other nasty little surprises the bill's supporters (and the AARP and the media) didn't tell you about before the vote.

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