November 15, 2005
Starting today, senior citizens can sign up for a new Medicare prescription drug program.
Back when Medicare was created, prescription drugs weren't very expensive for most families, but that's no longer the case.
That's because more and more people are taking medicines in lieu of spending time in the hospital or having surgery.
"People who can manage their blood pressure or their diabetes or their heart condition with medication are probably having a better quality of life, but that also has meant that there have been a lot of new and wonderful drugs and they're expensive," said Health Insurance Specialist Sally Mank.
Medicare's newest assistance plan has been designed to help seniors and the disabled pay for the drugs they need.
"This is a voluntary program for everyone with Medicare," explained Mank. "It will be particularly advantageous for people with low incomes."
The intended beneficiaries might get a little overwhelmed with the enrollment process.
In order to sign up, they must choose from 41 plans, 13 companies, policies with high and low premiums, large and small copays, with and without deductibles.
"It's so complicated. A lot of people don't understand it very well, and they're seeking help from anywhere they can find it."
In seeking the right plan, experts warn there might not be one that covers all of the drugs needed.
Experts advise people taking a lot of different prescriptions, to
choose a plan that will cover their most expensive drugs.
The new program is expected to save millions of people an average of $1,200 a year. Enrollment will be open until May 15, 2006.