How Will The Medicare Changes Affect You?

The senate approved the new prescription drug benefit program for medicare today. The $395 bill lion overhaul is the biggest expansion made to medicare in 38 years. The plan is geared to making your prescription much cheaper. How much cheaper?We found out.

Anyone with more than about $800 a year in total drug spending should save under the new bill. This is how it will work. For the 15.4 million low income seniors in America who have individual incomes below $13,055 and couples with incomes below $17,619, they'll pay no premium, no deductible, and pay only $1 to $5 dollars for prescriptions. The expected savings $2600.

The standard deduction available to the 25 million other seniors who make more than the above mention incomes works like this. You purchase drug coverage from a private health plan. You pay a $35 monthly premium for the card and have a $250 deducible. Then the card covers 75 percent of your drug costs. That's about a savings of 15 hundred a year.

None of this kicks in until 2006. So in the mean time, seniors will be able to buy a prescription drug discount card. It will be available in April 2004. Here's how that will work. You buy the medicare-backed discount drug card for $30 and it's estimated that card will save you 15 to 25 percent.