Update on Senior Donut Hole Rebate Checks

More Seniors to Receive One-Time Donut Hole Rebate Checks

By Staff Reports

Medicare Beneficiaries Whose High Prescription Drug Costs Have Put Them in the Medicare Part D Donut Hole to Receive $250 Rebate Checks as a Result of the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON – The next round of more than 300,000 eligible seniors who have entered the Medicare Part D “donut hole” this year have been mailed their tax-free, one time rebate check for $250, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced recently. These one-time rebate checks are the first step in closing the prescription drug coverage gap under the Affordable Care Act. The first round of checks were distributed in the middle of June. As qualifying Medicare recipients “fall into the donut hole,” they will be sent a rebate check by Medicare.

“Seniors and other Medicare recipients in the Medicare donut hole are struggling to afford the medications they need and their basic living expenses. Seventy percent of our first round of these $250 rebate checks were cashed within a week of eligible Medicare recipients receiving them; so, we know that folks really need some help,” said Secretary Sebelius. “The Affordable Care Act starts to close the donut hole this year, giving much-needed relief to millions of seniors. In 2011, the Affordable Care Act takes an additional step for Medicare beneficiaries in the donut hole by providing them with a 50 percent discount on their brand name medications. Every year from 2012 until 2020, the Affordable Care Act will take progressive steps to close the donut hole.” 

“Seniors also need to know that they will just receive their check at their usual address – they don’t have to take any extra steps,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center for Medicare, Jonathan Blum. “And they should never give out their personal information. If someone asks for your personal Medicare information over the phone who isn’t a trusted resource like Medicare, please don’t provide it. Seniors or family members should contact us at 1-800-MEDICARE to report any of these types of calls or go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov to learn more about efforts to fight fraud and scams against seniors.”

On Thursday, July 8th, at 2:00 p.m., HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined local officials in Manchester, N.H., for a forum with senior citizens to discuss the rebate checks and other benefits of the Affordable Care Act as well as efforts to fight Medicare fraud.

The $250 checks are being mailed to those Medicare beneficiaries who entered the Medicare Part D donut hole, also known as the coverage gap, in the second quarter of 2010 and are not eligible for Medicare Extra Help (also known as the low-income subsidy or LIS) or enrolled in a qualified retiree prescription drug plan. The donut hole is the period in the prescription drug benefit in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they reach the catastrophic coverage phase.

About Medicare Extra Help

Medicare Extra Help provides assistance to seniors so they don’t face higher costs or a coverage gap in their prescription drug coverage. Qualifying Medicare beneficiaries who entered the donut hole in the first quarter of 2010 who were not eligible for Medicare Extra Help received a check in the first round of rebates mailed June 10th. Going forward, a check for qualifying beneficiaries newly reaching the donut hole in 2010 will be mailed monthly.


More information about the “donut hole” rebate checks, please contact www.HealthCare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE. For further questions about Extra Help (or the LIS) benefit under Part D, please contact the Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov.


Doctors and FAs – how will this rebate assist your patients and clients? Feel free to comment and review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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3 Responses

  1. Big Pharma and Donut Hole Discounts

    The Medicare discounts drug makers negotiated with the White House and Senate aren’t going to take much of a bite out of Big Pharma.

    As Bloomberg reported, pharma companies could deliver $2 billion in drug discounts next year–no shabby figure–but percentage-wise, the price cuts are small.




  2. Ed,

    Many drugs are about to plunge in price. Why?

    When brand-name drugs go ‘off patent,’ other companies can make them in generic form. That’s going to happen soon with some of the most popular medications.




  3. Is there a flaw in Medicare Part D [Drugs] for Seniors?

    As readers of the ME-P know, Medicare’s prescription drug program [Part D] is touted or reviled for its market mechanisms. It’s run exclusively through private plans (no public option) that compete in the market for Medicare enrollees and the government subsidies that follow them. In many ways it encompasses sound competitive design elements.

    But, within that design is a flaw, one upon which several papers by Austin Frakt PhD and colleagues over at the Incidental Economist, have pivoted. Richard Frank and others have written about this flaw too. In fact, he did so again in a NEJM post last week:




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