New Medicare plan confuses seniors - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New Medicare plan confuses seniors

November 14, 2005

Albany -- Some Medicare recipients think about a new medicare prescription drug plan is more trouble than it's worth. But if seniors don't sign up before May 15th, they could be penalized.

There is simply too much information and too many options to explain the new medicare prescription drug plan in one sitting. That's why U. S. Congressman Sanford Bishop plans on hosting a series of town hall meetings to explain the plan to Senior Citizens and others on medicare.

Monday, the first of those meetings was held in Albany, and it seems more people left with questions than with answers. There were not enough handouts, not enough seats, but there was a surplus of information on the new prescription drug plan at today's town hall meeting.

"It confused me, even more than before," says Spencer Salter. "Yes."

And 82-year-old Salter is not alone. Others were left scratching their heads, wondering exactly what they were eligible for and when to sign up. "Made it a lot more confusing, and it's going to be a lot more costly."

So here is a very generalized rundown on the plan:

---Anyone currently on medicare, plan A, B, or both, is eligible.
---You can begin signing up Tuesday, but you must register by May 15th or face penalties.
---You will have monthly premiums. The amount varies by the plan you choose. ---Some plans have a deductible, but it will not exceed $250
---Every plan has a different list of drugs it covers. Make sure the prescriptions you take are on that list, or you may be wasting your money.
---If you find yourself enrolled in a plan that's not right for you, you can change it once a month.

And lastly, don't be afraid to ask questions.

"It didn't really tell me anything," said Robert Palmer. "The way it looks to me, if I went into their plan, it would cost me twice what it's costing me now."

If you already have a prescription drug plan in place, it has to be better than what medicare offers in order not Annie Broner says, "It's confusing to everybody, but as time goes on, I'm sure we're going to come to understand it."

There is extra help for those with limited resources and income to pay for the plan. Check with your current insurance carrier to make sure your plan is at least as good as the medicare plan, if you want to keep it.

If you need assistance signing up, contact Counsel on Aging or call 1-800-MEDICARE.

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