$250 “Donut Hole” payments mailed to seniors in Maine- today

21,500 Maine Medicare beneficiaries could receive help from new federal healthcare law

By Ramona du Houx - June 10th, 2010 · 

Medicare started mailing out $250 “donut hole” checks to Maine seniors, today. Under the recently enacted health insurance reform law, seniors who fall in the donut hole coverage gap in 2010 will receive this one-time tax-free $250 rebate check. These checks will automatically be mailed monthly over the next several months as seniors enter the coverage gap. Last year, 21,500 Medicare beneficiaries in Maine fell in the donut hole.

“This gap in coverage has been a huge problem for thousands of Maine seniors for years,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “I am pleased that the new health insurance reform law contained this benefit as an initial first step toward eliminating the coverage gap permanently.”

The donut hole coverage gap is the period in the Medicare prescription drug benefit (once prescription drug costs exceed $2,830) in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage threshold.

The rebate checks are the first benefit from health insurance reform for seniors in the Medicare Prescription Drug program. Beginning in January 2011, seniors in the donut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs and by 2020 the donut hole will be completely closed.