Area senior citizens have one last chance to get Medicare assistance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

The clock is winding down until May 15, and seniors are running out of opportunities to get help with their enrollment in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

Luckily, there will be at least one more opportunity for help provided by the AARP and the Ohio State Health Insurance Program (OSHIP) Tuesday at the Lawrence County Senior Citizens Center at Sybene.

Volunteers will be helping seniors find the right prescription drug program for them and enrolling them on site.

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Marilyn Howard, president of the Lawrence County AARP and volunteer with the Ohio State Health Insurance Program (OSHIP), said that she’s run into enough seniors without a plan to convince her that there’s still plenty of work to be done.

“I don’t know what percentage has registered in Lawrence County, but there are still many people who have not registered … many, many people,” Howard said. “It’s confusing for them because they do not know which plan to choose.”

That’s a small wonder, considering that seniors have a complex web of 44 different plans to weigh. Regardless, Howard said that seniors must be registered by the completed date or not only do without the plans but also suffer penalties.

“It’s getting down to the wire, and unless congressional action occurs, May 15 is the last time they can sign up this year, they will not be eligible to sign up again until November for 2007,” Howard said. “They will also have to pay a penalty.”

That’s right, those who don’t get their applications completed by May will have to pay an additional fee — $2.25 every month — for the rest of their lives. And even the amount of that charge may not be set in stone, as Howard said the charge can fluctuate every year.

Those who want to get help at Sybene must make reservations by calling (740) 532-3534 or (740) 867-4521. Appointments must be made before Tuesday. Seniors should bring along all their prescription bottles, their Medicare card and their confirmation letter if they applied and were approved for extra help.