Review and Compare Medicare Plans


(ARA) – This is an important time of the year for seniors. Once a year, they have the opportunity to review, change and add to their Medicare plans including Part D, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit. Now through Dec. 31, 2008 is Medicare’s annual open enrollment period. It is also the chance for those not enrolled in the prescription drug plan Part D to enroll.

During these challenging economic times, it is important seniors ensure their drug benefit plan meets their health and pocketbook needs. The federal Medicare Part D prescription drug program is designed to provide greater access to prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries — regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage.

The good news is that this program works, delivering on its promise to save money for seniors on their prescription drugs with affordable premiums and low copaymevnts. With Medicare’s prescription drug benefit Part D, seniors save $1,200 a year on average on prescription drugs. In fact, a recent national survey of seniors for “Medicare Today” shows that nearly 71 percent say they have reduced their spending on prescription drugs. The survey also shows that seniors give their prescription drug program very high marks: 90 percent say they are satisfied with their plan — an increase of 12 points since the prescription drug program started in 2006.

Current and potential beneficiaries can speak with a Medicare counselor for information about the benefit by calling (800) MEDICARE or (800) 633-4227. Beneficiaries should have on hand a list of the prescription drugs they take, including the dosage and frequency, and a preferred pharmacy. Seniors have until Dec. 31 to make any changes or to enroll. For many the next opportunity will be in November of 2009, so the time to do it is now.

During the open enrollment period seniors should:

Review their drug benefit plans annually.
Premiums and benefits do change every year, as do the prescription drug needs of seniors. To ensure the prescription drug benefit is meeting the beneficiary’s current need, plans must be reviewed annually.

Compare with other available plans.
If a beneficiary feels they are paying too much for their prescription drug benefit or that certain drugs are not covered under their current plan, they should compare it with other available plans in the state. There is a wide variety of choices in coverage plans to fit every senior’s budget. Affordable Medicare drug benefit plans are available in all 50 states, and plan options vary in costs and the drugs that are covered. To compare a current plan with others visit to use the Medicare Options Compare tool.

Enroll now.
If an eligible senior is not enrolled in Medicare Part D, now is the time to enroll. The best time to sign up is when the beneficiary is first eligible for Medicare. Late enrollees may incur a penalty fee. To enroll and find a plan that meets the senior’s needs visit to use the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder.

Consider the low income subsidy.
More than 3 million people eligible for financial assistance to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs are not enrolled in Part D. Those who qualify for the low-income subsidy can receive the benefit at little to no cost. To determine if you are eligible, contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at (800) 772-1213 or visit

Article courtesy of ARA Content

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