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News of the Day ... In Perspective

12/18/2005

Experts advise seniors to skip Part D scramble

Most people attending the more than 180 outreach events on Medicare Part D in Tucson, AZ, said they plan to stick with the drug coverage they have. While enrollment figures are not yet available, the fact that only 60 people attended a well-publicized opportunity to get one-on-one advice from Medicare officials suggest that people are avoiding change.

“It’s only people who don’t have coverage as good as Part D who are encouraged to switch,” said Stewart Grabel, ombudsman for the Pima Council on Aging.

One reason is that the plans are too complicated. “We have doctors and lawyers and other professionals who can’t figure this thing out,” Grabel said (Ariz Daily Star, 12/16/05).

Seniors who do not have a “creditable” (comparable) drug plan will, like those who delay enrollment in Part B, face penalties for each month of delay, which will apply for the rest of their life, if they enroll after May 15, 2006.

According to Anthem’s Healthy Solutions website:

“The late penalty equals 1 percent of the premium amount for each month that enrollment is delayed. The penalty accumulates each month enrollment is delayed. For example, if a person delays enrollment in Part D for two years, he or she will pay an additional 24 percent on top of the premium each year.

“Designed to encourage beneficiaries to sign up at the youngest possible age, the penalty helps hold down the overall costs of the drug program.”

Additional information:

“Drug Bust” in the January 2006 AAPS Report from Washington by Robert Moffit.

“Medicare Drug Plans May Leave Patients Without Their Medications,” News of the Day 11/1/05

“An Open Letter to Congress on the Final Medicare Prescription Drug Legislation from Concerned Taxpayer and Policy Groups,” Nov 19, 2003

 

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