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By far, the most important medical legislation passed in 2003 was the Medicare Reform Act
The bill promises:
Most of the reforms take effect in 2006, but seniors are scheduled to receive some help via a drug discount card by July 2004.
A One-Time Free Physical
Key among the benefits is a one-time free physical upon enrollment in Medicare, as well as a diabetes screening test—either at the time of the physical or independent of the exam-for those not already diagnosed with diabetes.
Prior Medicare regulations did not cover diagnostic tests unless symptoms were present. By comprehensively screening seniors for high body mass index, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, physicians now have the opportunity to identify those patients most at risk and initiate preventive, preemptive therapy.
In addition, those seniors with diabetes will continue to be eligible for diabetes education, including nutrition counseling (medical nutrition therapy) when provided by an American Diabetes Association Recognized Diabetes Self-Management Program. In addition there are limited benefits for nutrition counseling for certain other conditions such as kidney disease.
Many Benefits for Seniors With Diabetes
Blood glucose monitoring devices and supplies likewise will continue to be reimbursed under Medicare Part B when prescribed by a healthcare provider.
Oral medications, insulin and syringes will be reimbursed under the new Part D guidelines, scheduled to take effect in 2006. The rates of drug coverage under Part D will vary by region of the country.
Prescription drug coverage does not become free in 2006. The standard benefit to take effect calls for a $250 annual deductible coupled with a $35 monthly premium. Seniors would then receive 75 percent coverage of all prescription drug costs up to $2,250 per year. After reaching the $2,250 limit, seniors would be required to pay the full out-of-pocket cost for drugs up to an expenditure of $3,600, at which point coverage would resume.
Seniors with diabetes should be aware that most oral medications will be covered only in generic form. Thus, seniors can dramatically reduce their medication costs by obtaining generic drugs, if available.
Highlights of the New Medicare Legislation
Source: American Diabetes Association Advocacy Team
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.