Effective July 1, 2013, Medicare is opening a mail order program that will affect over 4.2 million diabetics who are currently beneficiaries of Medicare nationwide. Current Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will not be affected by the new program.
The goal of the program is to lower the prices that the government has to pay for diabetic supplies to test blood sugar. It is also designed to stop or cut down on the fraud and abuse in the medical equipment industry that currently costs taxpayers billions of dollars. For example, the program will stop the practice of suppliers shipping medical supplies to beneficiaries who have not ran out and do not need them and then billing Medicare. The government will accomplish this by providing more oversight over medical suppliers in its program.
Diabetics will have the option of receiving their supplies through Medicare mail order suppliers or picking them up at their local pharmacy if that pharmacy has a contract with the government. The catch is that diabetics, to get the new lower prices, are required to use one of 18 designated mail order suppliers if a pharmacy in their area does not participate in the Medicare program. In the new program, beneficiary co-pay will go from $15 to under $5.
In addition to the mail order program, nine metro areas have been conducting a pilot program to lower prices on home oxygen and other health equipment needed by Medicare beneficiaries. That program requires suppliers to bid on government contracts before they can provide necessary supplies covered by Medicare. The program is set to expand to a total of 100 metro areas on July 1 and be available nationwide by 2016.
Because of the major changes being made on July 1, diabetics and those who require home health equipment and supplies should check to see if their current supplier is a part of the new program. If not, the beneficiaries will need to locate a new supplier who participates in the program to get the lower costs. For more information visit www.medicare.gov, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
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