New Medicare prescription drug program confuses most - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New Medicare prescription drug program confuses most

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October 27, 2005

Albany- Those who get prescription drug assistance from Medicare or Medicaid must sign up for a new benefit plan by December 31, 2005 or face being assigned to possibly the wrong plan. Sorting through all the information to pick the right plan has some seniors screaming for help

"It is so confusing, I don't know what to do," said Colleen Chappell, a concerned senior.

Chappell is not alone, many seniors at the SOWEGA Senior Center say information they've received about the new prescription drug benefit plan is simply confusing.

"I got one statement saying I was qualified I didn't need to sign up, the very same day I got a statement saying I wasn't qualified and I couldn't get it," said Chappell.

The Medicare 2006 book many received in the mail, hasn't helped. "They're calling in with a lot of questions, the Medicare new 2006 book has really confused them even more so," said Kathy Jenkins, Georgia Cares Coordinator.

"I've asked my doctor, my pharmacist, and everyone here at SOWEGA and they don't know either, we're just aren't being told enough so we can understand it," said Chappell.

"It has some discrepancies, some of the information is not correct and it doesn't list the drug plan, I mean it doesn't list the drugs that are covered under each drug plan," said Jenkins.

So seniors are being forced to find the information online. "Older people like me, I don't go online, I don't understand that and I don't do that," said Chappell.

What seniors really need is a list of their prescriptions and the name of their local pharmacy. If they contact the Georgia Cares division of the Council On Aging at 1-800-669-8387, they can help seniors narrow their choices from 72 plans down to three or four.

"It's really based on the drugs they're taking, so if they choose a plan that doesn't pay for their drugs they could wind up paying a monthly premium for a year and not be able to get their drugs covered," said Jenkins.

Georgia cares is encouraging seniors to ask questions and seek help, from their children or from the Georgia Cares office, so they can make the right decision the first time around.

"I'm scared that you can't sign up but once but I don't know how or when or where to sign up because no body seem to know what to tell me to do," said Chappell.

Georgia Cares plans to schedule several workshops to help seniors. You will be able to enroll in the program during those workshops. The premiums for plans range between $17 and $72 dollars, so seniors will want to make the right choice the first time they enroll.

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