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Now's the time to look at Medicare Part D options

December 03, 2008
From now until the open enrollment period ends on Dec. 31, people 65 and older with no prescription drug plan can sign up for coverage through Medicare Part D. In addition, anyone who already has a prescription drug plan can sign up for a new plan without additional cost. If no changes are made, the same plan will be enacted for 2009.

Medicare Part D is a government program enacted in January 2006 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients.

Reviewing options for a possible change in drug plans has been recommended by Medicare Rights Center President Robert Hayes, who says current plan holders should not assume the costs and benefits of their plan will remain the same next year. Statistics from Avalere Health confirmed this by charting a 24-percent increase in monthly premiums for customers who remain in its current plan.

In addition to an overall premium increase, certain plans with drugs for conditions such as anemia, cancer and hepatitis C can also see a 50-percent increase in prescription cost, according to a report by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.

For Crawford County, seniors have the choice of 48 prescription drug plans and nine Medicare health plans. Medicare.gov rates these plans by a system of five stars. The top seven prescription drug plans, each receiving four out of five stars, are AARP MedicareRx Preferred, UA Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage, BravoRx, Silverscript Value, Silverscript Plus, UA Medicare Part D Rx Coverage-Silver Plan and Silverscript Complete. The monthly premiums of all the plans range from $16.80 to $100.90. Twenty-seven of the 48 plans have no deductibles.

Floyd and Harrison County have the same number of prescription drug plans with the same ratings. Floyd has 18 Medicare health plans and Harrison has 20.

For more information on the plans themselves, visit www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-633-4227. For help on getting a plan or questions about Medicare Part D, visit www.medicareinteractive.com for an interactive Medicare counselor or call 1-800-333-4114 to speak with a counselor at the Medicare Rights Center. Counselors are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Northside Christian Church in New Albany will be helping seniors with open enrollment Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 1-812-944-4809.

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