Some Patient Advocates Raise Concerns About Penalties for Late Enrollment in Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
Some patient advocates are concerned that Medicare beneficiaries "faced with complex choices of drug plans will do nothing and be permanently penalized" if they enroll in the new Medicare prescription drug benefit after the May 16, 2006, deadline, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The penalty for late registration for Medicare Part D is similar to a provision for Medicare Part B coverage. Beneficiaries who enroll after the deadline or more than seven months after their 65th birthdays must pay penalties equal to 1% of their monthly premium for every month they are late, up to 12% annually, the Bee reports. Penalties are deducted from beneficiaries' Social Security checks.
CMS will spend more than $63 million to inform beneficiaries about deadlines and drug benefit options. However, the federal government's "record so far" in informing the public about the benefit "is not good," according to the Bee.
Federal officials said that, as of December 2004, 823,957 beneficiaries paid penalties for late enrollment in Medicare Part B.
The Medicare Rights Center said many beneficiaries who are charged the Medicare Part B penalty did not understand the rules, were given incorrect information by advisers or could not afford the premium (Weaver Teichert, Sacramento Bee, 3/7).