• 77°

Medicare enrollment set to start

Seniors wanting to apply for or change their Medicare drug enrollment can do so starting on Saturday.

The program, which began in 2006, has an annual enrollment period beginning Nov. 15 and ending on Dec. 31.

During that time seniors can apply or change their enrollment from one plan to another.

According to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc. Web site, people on the Part D plan, which is through private insurance and not Medicaid itself, will see a $20 increase in their deductible in 2009, with the plan going from $275 to $295. Then Medicare pays 75 percent of the next $2,405 worth of drugs. After that comes the “donut hole” — the threshold when the senior has to pay for 100 percent of the next $3,453.75 out of their own pockets.

According to the American Association of Retired People, there are five things seniors should know about Medicare Part D.

The first is that anyone on Medicare can get drug coverage regardless of income or health. Secondly, the senior is not obliged to sign up (but there may be financial consequences if they don’t enroll when first eligible to do so). Thirdly to get Medicare drug coverage, a senior must select one approved private drug plan among many offering different choices. There is no single government plan. Fourth, if you are on a limited income, you might qualify for a part of the program known as Extra Help and you’ll pay very little for your medications. Fifth, you’ll pay no more than 5 percent of the cost of each prescription after you’ve spent a certain amount out of pocket in any one year.

According to the Medicare Web site, there are 49 different prescription drug plans available to Lawrence Countians. For more information go to the “Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder” button, hit it and then type in the state and county. For help deciding what program is right for you, go to www.medicare.gon and select “Compare Health Plans and Medigap Policies in your Area” and “Compare Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.”

To call about Medicare benefits, call toll-free 1-800-633-4227.