Posts Tagged ‘donut hole coverage’

Medicare Aims to Improve User Experience

September 7th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

Medicare user

Two new initiatives designed to help Medicare beneficiaries better understand their benefits are now available.

CMS has redesigned its Medicare Web site,, in an attempt to simplify the language and home page layout and make the content more accessible and quicker to navigate for Medicare beneficiaries, families and caregivers.

Users can now do the following directly from the home page:

  • Search for whether a specific test, item, or service is covered under original Medicare;
  • Get customized information based on a beneficiary’s specific situation;
  • Get quick links to replace a lost Medicare card, find a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, and get help with healthcare costs.

And HHS has partnered with five major pharmacies to make educational materials on Medicare benefits more widely available, including information on newly available preventive services, and savings on prescription drug spending in the “donut hole” coverage gap.

Some examples of how the pharmacy partners, which include CVS Caremark, Walgreens, Thrifty White, Walmart, and Sam’s Club, will work together to increase awareness include the following:

  • CVS Caremark will distribute material to beneficiaries at its more than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores and 600 MinuteClinic locations, through brochures, register receipt messages and online;
  • Thrifty White pharmacy will provide information through its 85 locations throughout the midwest;
  • Walgreens will distribute information in nearly 8,000 pharmacies and over 350 Take Care Clinic locations, as well as use in-store announcements;
  • HHS will also work with Walmart and Sam’s Club to provide healthcare information to their shoppers online.

Other pharmacies or partners can find information on how to work with CMS to educate consumers about the benefits available to them, while interested users can visit the new Medicare benefits site.

Nearly 6 Million Visit Retail Medical Clinics in 2009; Older Patients and Preventive Services on Rise

August 20th, 2012 by Cheryl Miller

Retail medical clinics continue to grow in popularity, particularly among those 65 and up seeking preventive services, a new report from the RAND Corporation shows. Nearly half of visits between 2007 and 2009 occurred on weekends, when physician offices are typically closed. But despite their rising popularity, they still account for a small proportion of outpatient medical care overall.

The elderly are targets of a new initiative from the HHS, which has partnered with five pharmacies to help educate customers about their Medicare benefits. The pharmacies will provide educational materials to beneficiaries about available preventive services and savings on prescription drug spending in the “donut hole” coverage gap, among other things.

Efforts to decrease hospital readmission rates remain stagnant, as the national average readmission rate continues to hover slightly above 19 percent, according to a recent news report from Kaiser Health News. Nearly 300 hospitals, some of them nationally recognized, could lose an estimated $280 million in Medicare funds over the next year as the government starts paying healthcare providers based on the quality of care they provide.

And don’t forget to participate in on our Health and Wellness Incentives Survey. A review of 36 peer-reviewed studies of wellness programs in large firms found that average employer medical costs fell $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and costs for days that employees were absent fell an average of $2.73. Please share the details of your incentives program by completing our fourth annual survey by August 31 and you’ll receive a free executive summary of the compiled results.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.