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Oct 2009
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October 26, 2009

Remember to Distribute Annual Medicare Part D Notices by November 15, 2009

Just a reminder that it's time once again to make sure that you have distributed the Notice of Creditable Coverage required under Medicare Part D, which informs participants whether the prescription drug coverage offered under your health plan constitutes creditable or noncreditable coverage. Once again, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued updated forms that you may use to provide this notice.

Employers who sponsor a health plan offering prescription drug benefits must provide an annual notice to all Medicare-eligible participants that explains whether the prescription drug benefits offered under the plan are at least as good as the benefits offered under the Medicare Part D plan. The only employers exempt from this notice requirement are those that establish their own Part D plan or who contract with a Part D plan.

CMS has recently updated its general guidance. It has also eliminated the "personalized" notice form and updated the "individual" forms, both in English and Spanish. The guidance and updated forms are available on the CMS website. If you cannot connect to the CMS Web site, you may use the links below to retrieve the forms:

The Notice of Creditable Coverage must be provided:

  • At least once a year before Nov. 15 (the start of the annual Medicare Part D enrollment period).
  • Whenever a Medicare-eligible employee enrolls in your health plan.
  • Whenever there is a change in the creditable or non-creditable status of your health plan's prescription drug coverage.
  • Whenever an individual requests the notice.

Because it is difficult to keep track of which employees (and their spouses or dependents) are eligible for Medicare benefits, we recommend that you make the Notice a part of your new-hire enrollment materials and your annual open enrollment materials. If distributed before November 15, this should take care of the first two bullet points above.

Remember that you must also submit a Disclosure to CMS Form each year, reporting whether your prescription drug coverage is creditable or non-creditable coverage. This form must be submitted electronically within 60 days of the beginning of each plan year. Thus, if you are on a calendar year, you must submit the form by March 1, 2010. The form is available on the CMS Creditable Coverage Web site.

If you have any questions about Medicare Part D notifications, please contact Norbert F. Kugele at 616.752.2186 or at nkugele@wnj.com, or any other member of the Warner Employee Benefits practice group.

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