Certain Uniformed Services Beneficiaries Entitled To
Medicare To Receive Important Mailings
The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization
Act of 2003 (MMA) has a provision that directly impacts certain
Medicare-TRICARE dual-eligible beneficiaries. It eliminates
the Medicare Part B surcharge for uniformed services beneficiaries
who were subject to a higher premium (currently paying more
than $66.60 a month) for enrolling in Part B during the years
2001 to 2004. Under the MMA, Medicare Part B premiums will
be reduced for these beneficiaries to the regular monthly
premium rate and beneficiaries will be reimbursed for any
surcharges paid in 2004. These refunds will be provided in
Social Security retirement checks. In mid-September, the Social
Security Administration (SSA) will send a statement that clearly
explains these changes.
The legislation also provides the opportunity for uniformed
services beneficiaries who are entitled to Medicare Part A
but are not enrolled in Medicare Part B to enroll in Part
B without a premium surcharge. These beneficiaries will be
offered the opportunity to enroll in Part B during a Special
SSA Special Enrollment Period Notice
The SSA will mail a Special Enrollment Period notice in mid-September
2004 to uniformed services beneficiaries who are entitled
to Medicare Part A but are not enrolled in Medicare Part B.
The notice will explain that the SSA enrolled the beneficiary
in Part B effective Sept. 1, 2004. The Part B monthly premium
($66.60) will automatically be deducted from Social Security
retirement checks starting Sept. 1, or if beneficiaries do
not receive a Social Security check, they will be billed the
appropriate amount. The SSA notice includes a form that gives
beneficiaries the option to change their Medicare Part B effective
date or decline enrollment. Anyone who refuses Part B will
be ineligible for TRICARE benefits.
Beneficiaries will have 60 days after the date of the notice
to complete and return the form if they choose to change the
effective date or decline Part B enrollment. If beneficiaries
notify SSA that they are selecting an earlier month in 2004
as the start date for their Part B enrollment and would find
it hard to pay the past months’ premium amount in a lump sum,
they should take the completed form and the SSA letter to
a local Social Security office (if they live in the United
States, Canada or Mexico) or United States Foreign Service
Post for processing and ask about alternative payment options.
Department of Defense (DoD) Letter
Affected beneficiaries will also receive a letter from the
Department of Defense (DoD) regarding these changes in the
law. The DoD letter will give beneficiaries a heads-up that
they will soon be receiving a Special Enrollment Period notice
from the SSA. This letter also explains that by law, beneficiaries
who are entitled to Medicare Part A, whether based on age,
disability, or end-stage renal disease, must be enrolled in
Medicare Part B to retain TRICARE eligibility. Dual-eligible
active duty family members are not required to purchase Medicare
Part B until their active duty sponsor retires.
Uniformed services beneficiaries also must be registered
in the Defense Enrollment
Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to remain eligible
for TRICARE benefits. Beneficiaries may update their information
in DEERS by visiting an identification card issuing facility
or by contacting the Defense Manpower Data Center Support
Office (DSO) Telephone Center at (800) 538-9552. To find the
nearest identification card issuing facility, beneficiaries
may visit www.dmdc.osd.mil/rsl.
For general information about TRICARE benefits, beneficiaries
may call Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) TRICARE For Life
at 1-866-773-0404 or visit the TRICARE Web site at www.tricare.osd.mil.
Additional information regarding the Medicare Prescription
Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-173)
is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation/tricare.html.
If beneficiaries have questions about enrolling in Medicare
Part B, they may call SSA toll free, at 1-800-772-1213 or
visit any Social Security office.