Prescription drug deadline fast approaching - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prescription drug deadline fast approaching

May 5, 2006

Albany-- The deadline is fast approaching for seniors to sign up for the government's Medicare Part D program. By May 15th, recipients must pick a plan under the new prescription drug benefit program.

Pharmacist Steffanie Sceals says her customers are counting down to May 15th.

"People are already starting to get a little excited again, just because they know this is the deadline, so they have to make the choice," she says.

Nearly five months into the program, many people eligible for the plan have yet to sign up. 

"I think a lot of people are real unsure and still confused if their current insurance is appropriate," she says.

And as many pharmacists will tell you, the program hasn't exactly been perfect, even now. 

"They're not paying the people that are signing people up, and they're paying pharmacies relatively slowly," says David Hays.

Despite the plans imperfections, pharmicist David Hays says not signing up could actually cost you.

"If they don't sign up by May 15th, their next available sign up period is November 15 through December 31."

But sign up then, and you'll be stuck with a one percent penaltly fee on your base premium. 

"Which is not a lot of money, it's like thirty cents on most premiums. But just add that over time and you pay that for the rest of your life," says Sceals.

While pharmacists admit the plan isn't for everyone, they stress it's worth looking into, especially when it could mean big savings for you.

Just a reminder, if you sign up by the May 15th deadline, your coverage does not begin immediately. It takes effect June 1st.

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