Tuesday is the first day to register for the new Medicare part d prescription drug program. While in the long run seniors will benefit from the program, right now it's causing a lot of questions.
Beneficiaries in most states are able to select from at least 40 plans. But federal officials say the competition means lower costs and more generous benefits. The current plan locks seniors into a specific plan for a year. If an individual wants to change plans before that year is up then they would be charged per month until that contract is up. Those who decline to enroll before May 15, 2006 face a penalty that would increase their monthly premium.
The best advice is for seniors to sit down with a loved one or an insurance agent and gather a list of medications. In the back of the Medicare Plan D book that was sent to each senior in October is a list of all the various plans.
All across the nation about 40 million seniors spent the day reviewing the various Medicare drug plans. Now anybody who is in low income programs like Circuit Breaker or Senior Care will automatically be enrolled with the provider AARP or PacifiCare. By the way both of those providers have been approved by the State of Illinois.
Seniors have from now till May 15th to enroll. AARP is encouraging seniors who don't understand the plan or don't even take medication to sign-up. If not anytime past month past May 15th is a one percent premium penalty. A U.S. Senator and Representative from Illinois are among four democratic lawmakers planning to call on congress today to give seniors an additional six months to decide whether to sign up for Medicare's new prescription drug benefit. Durbin joined Senate and House Democrats to urge Congress to pass the Medicare Informed Choice Act of 205. This is a bill to postpone the enrollment penalties until the end of 2006.
If you need any help you can go to www.medicare.gov of 1-800-Medicare. Here in Illinois Senior Health Insurance Program(SHIP) has been designated the principal resource for seniors. The number is 1-800-548-9034.