Since 2006, Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker Health have been helping thousands of Medicare beneficiaries navigate the complex prescription drug program known as Medicare Part D. The 2016 Medicare Part D open enrollment season is now underway. This means that Legal Aid and Whitman-Walker Health are again offering Medicare Part D clinics, as we have done for the past ten years, at our NW and SE offices, as well as at each of the Bread for the City locations in NW and SE.
Why is it important to have a Medicare Part D check up? Each year, the private prescription drug plans that offer coverage under Medicare Part D change. As a result, the plan a beneficiary is in this year may no longer cover their drugs next year or may start charging a monthly premium. For some individuals with low income, enrolling in the right Medicare Part D plan could potentially save hundreds or thousands of dollars that would otherwise be spent paying out-of-pocket for a prescription drug.
Each year, Legal Aid’s staff and volunteers save our clients money and help them avoid the catastrophic results that would occur if they were unable to obtain their medications. Two examples of this work from last year’s open season are:
- B was a 77 year old man whose pharmacy would no longer participate with his Part D plan in 2016. Had he shown up at the pharmacy on January 1, 2016 to fill his prescriptions, he would have been told that his drug costs would be over $9,000. A volunteer changed him to a plan that covered his medications and participated with his pharmacy.
- M was a 52 year old woman with multiple physical and mental disabilities whose plan would no longer cover her insulin and other drugs. A volunteer switched her plan to one that would cover all of her prescriptions, thus avoiding her having to face a bill exceeding $10,000.
These great results could only happen because of the ten years worth of hard work and dedication of the volunteers who worked with B and M, the hundreds of others like them and the staff of Legal Aid’s Public Benefits Unit. We also want to acknowledge the work and support of our partner Whitman-Walker Health, as well as Bread for the City (for hosting two of our clinics), and Arnold & Porter and Hogan Lovells (for hosting our trainings). This is truly collaborative work that has benefited some of the District’s most vulnerable clients. We look forward to the next ten years of this project.