Many Medicare recipients will receive $250

One of the main goals of the health care legislation approved by Congress was to bring younger people into the system, but many older people will see the most immediate effect.

Tan lovers won’t be far behind, however, as the legislation contains a provision that will bump up the costs of a session under artificial ultraviolet light.

Many people on Medicare this year will see $250 checks from the federal government as the first effort to close the so-called Medicare “doughnut hole.”

About 108,000 Coloradans are enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription-benefit coverage and, of that number, about 48,000 stand to be affected by the efforts to close the “doughnut hole,” said Val Kalmins, executive director of the Colorado Pharmacists Society.

The “doughnut hole” is to be eliminated by 2020, but after the $250 rebate this year, beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs.

The doughnut refers to the lack of Medicare coverage for out-of-pocket drug costs between $896.25 and $4,350.25.

Medicare covers 75 percent of costs less than $295 and 95 percent of costs over $4,350.25.

While their elders see a cut in their out-of-pocket costs for pharmaceuticals, people who want indoor tans can expect to pay more soon for their tropical good looks.

A 10 percent tax on the cost of a fake bake goes into effect in July as a result of the health care bill, said John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association.

The new tax is pegged to raise $2.7 billion between 2010 and 2019.

“It will have a pretty major effect if we can’t get it reversed,” Overstreet said.

Overstreet said he planned to lobby for the tax to be eliminated as Congress tackles several tax-related issues, including elimination of the Bush tax cuts later this year.

Scott Young, owner of Tan in Paradise, 2478 U.S. Highway 6 & 50, said he was unsure how the federal government would collect the tax.

There is no mechanism to collect the tax and no indication as to where money should be sent, Young said.

“There’s a lot of bureaucracy behind doing this,” Young said.

The actual requirements of near-universal coverage for Americans don’t go into effect until 2014, and employers are awaiting more information about how the new rules will play out.

“The devil is in the details in these kinds of things,” said Ed Krey of Krey Benefits Solutions.

To catch up with developments, several Web sites are dedicated to tracking and explaining the new law.

The Kaiser Family Foundation site at http://www.kff.org has a comparison tool showing the Senate and reconciliation bills.

More information is available from official sites, including

energycommerce.house.gov, where Congressional Democrats will post information;

hhs.gov, the Web site of the Department of Health and Human Services, which will administer much of the law;

and Medicare.gov.


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