Out-of-pocket health care costs are those that you pay yourself and for which you receive no reimbursement. For the Medicare prescription drug benefit, you will have to pay a monthly premium to join a plan on top of existing Medicare Part B, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Cost plan premiums. Costs will vary depending on which plan you pick. For 2006, you will pay a monthly premium of around $32 a month for standard coverage. For that, you will receive a $250 deductible, which must be met before the benefit starts. As long as your premiums are paid on time and you have met your deductible, you will have a 25% co-pay up to $2,250. You will then have to pay 100% of your drug costs for the next $2,850. Once you have spent $3,600 in out-of-pocket expenses for the calendar year, the benefit becomes active and your co-pay is only 5% for the rest of the calendar year. People with limited income may qualify for extra help in the form of waived premiums, no deductibles, and low co-pays.
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