If you’re one of more than 193,000 Hawaii residents who depend on Medicare for stable, affordable health care, the new health reform package passed by Congress this year offers benefits you should know about.

The Reform:

  • Improves access to primary care doctors. Your primary care doctor will receive bonuses for treating patients in Medicare, helping ensure that Hawaii beneficiaries have continued access to primary care services.
  • Closes the Medicare Part D coverage gap or “donut hole.” Skyrocketing drug costs are a particular problem for Hawaii residents. In 2007, 36 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in Hawaii fell into the coverage gap, which meant they had to pay the entire cost of medications and their premiums. Under health reform, if you reach the donut hole in 2010, you’ll receive a rebate for $250 to help pay for prescriptions. Beginning in 2011, if you reach the donut hole you’ll receive a 50 percent discount on your brand-name drugs. The coverage gap will be closed over the next 10 years.
  • Provides preventive care, free of charge. You’ll no longer have to pay out of pocket for preventive care services, such as screenings for cancer and diabetes. You’ll also be able to work with your doctor to develop your own plan to keep you as healthy as possible.
  • Improves the coordination of care for people with chronic conditions. In 2004, 17 percent of Hawaii Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital were re-admitted within 30 days. The new law provides benefits to older residents to help you stay in your home and community.

No one should be left to struggle with medical bills after a lifetime of hard work. By knowing what’s in the law and when the different benefits take effect, you can take advantage of the new provisions for yourself and your family.

Check www.aarp.org/getthefacts for the latest information.