How to protect seniors -- older parents, relatives and loved ones -- who live alone. Tips on what to do in case of an emergency. Safety ideas.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Medicare Prescription Drug Primer, Part 2: Coverage Costs and Enrollment

(Below is part 2 of our two part article.) --Dr. Don Rose


How much will the plans cost?

Your costs will vary depending on which drugs you use, whether you get extra help paying your Part D costs, and which Medicare drug plan you choose. Most drug plans charge a monthly premium that varies by plan. You pay this in addition to the Part B premium.

Some drug plans charge no premium. If you have limited income and resources, you may get extra help to pay for your Medicare drug plan costs. Depending on what you can afford, you may be able to pick a plan with or without a monthly premium, deductible or coverage gap.

What if I have limited income and resources?

There is extra help for people with limited income and resources. Almost 1 in 3 people with Medicare will qualify for extra help. Medicare will pay for almost all of their prescription drug costs. You can apply or get more information about the extra help by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting

When can I get Medicare prescription drug coverage?

This year, you may sign up from November 15, 2006 to December 31, 2006. Your coverage will start January 1, 2007. Enrolling by December 8, 2006 can help ensure that you will be able to use your coverage as soon as you need it after it starts.

If you don't sign up when you are first eligible, you may pay a penalty.

After December 31, 2006, your next opportunity to enroll will be from November 15, 2007 to December 31, 2007. Note: there may be exceptions to this; call the Medicare 800 number to get more information (see Resources section below).

How do I enroll?

You can enroll in three ways:

· Sign up online at the Medicare website’s Enrollment Center (use this tool to join the Medicare drug plan you've selected)
· Call the plan directly
· Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and Medicare will help you enroll
(TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048).

Read New Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage - Who Can Help Me Apply and Enroll?

Can I change plans after I enroll?

Yes. You can change plans under certain circumstances:

· You can switch plans from November 15 to December 31 each year

· In special circumstances, Medicare may give you an opportunity to switch to another plan. For example, if you permanently move out of your plan’s service area; if you get help from your state Medicaid program paying Medicare premiums and/or cost sharing; if you qualify for extra help paying for prescription drugs; if the plan stops offering prescription drug coverage; or if you enter, live in, or leave a nursing home.

Read Quick Facts about Medicare's New Coverage for Prescription Drugs.


For more information, please read The Facts About Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.

Also, you can read other fact sheets about Medicare Prescription Drug coverage as it relates to the following topics:
- People with Limited Income
- Residents of Nursing Homes / Long-term Care Facilities
- People who get help from state pharmacy programs
- People with Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) Policies
- People who get Supplemental Security Income benefits or an MSP program
- Bridging the Coverage Gap.

For more details about Medicare benefits, contact:
Toll-free ................1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227);
TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

Seniors can also read the Medicare & You 2007 handbook that was mailed to many homes in October.

# # #

This article is based on the “ - MPDPF: Supporting Information” webpage, and the “Prescription Drug Coverage: Basic Information” webpage; both are part of the Medicare website.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
Life Alert is the leading emergency response company, dedicated to solving home safety issues. With a touch of a button, Life Alert sends help fast, 24/7, whether it’s for a medical, fall, fire, or home invasion emergency, even when you can’t reach a phone. Life Alert saves a life from a catastrophic every 10 minutes and has received over 25,000 testimonials from grateful customers since 2008, and was the ONLY company former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, endorsed until his death in 2013. Founded in 1987, Life Alert has become the industry leader in personal protection but also has become a pop culture icon with their classic slogan, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” which was ranked #1 by USA TODAY in its list of the most memorable TV commercials. In 2008, “The Martha Stewart Show” featured Life Alert and recommend them to all of the patients at the Martha Stewart Center for Living while pointing out that Life Alert is "so inexpensive yet so vital for people." Life Alert, their slogan and/or pendant have been featured in many T.V. shows such as 30 Rock, Supernatural, The Goldbergs, and Jay Leno frequently referred to their famous slogan on The Tonight Show.