Medicare Confusion

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

January 8, 2006

Last weekend, thousands were scrambling to sign up for the new Medicare plan "D" by the end of the year. Tonight, many still have questions.

This new part of Medicare deals with prescription coverage.

Like many other parts of the new plan, it can be hard to understand. Even some pharmacists are confused.

"The bottom line is that the patient that's on the medication is the one that ends up suffering when things don't go right if they don't get their medication," said Jathan Payne, a pharmacist at Medicap Pharmacy.

He has been trying to help seniors make sense of their plans this week, but it hasn't been easy.

"It shouldn't be confusing to us, but it's very confusing to us, too. So, I don't really expect the general public to get it without any complications either," he explained.

Payne is doing exactly what he's been told to do: Call for help. But that's been a challenge, too.

"For one person yesterday, we were on hold 45 minutes on the phone for the first one and 35 minutes for the second half of the call because the number we were given the first time was wrong," he said.

Many people quickly signed up at the last minute.

"They told them that if you signed up by 11:59 PM on [December 31st], then you're active on January 1st. That's kind of a joke."

So now people are stuck with plans they may or may not need. With all this confusion, those who need the coverage the most may not see a difference.

"The average senior spends $900 to $1,000 a year on medication anyway, and those aren't the ones that are benefiting the most."

It's important to know that your pharmacist is not allowed to choose a plan for you, but he or she can work with you to sort through some of the confusion.

Those wishing to enroll in Plan D have until May 15th to do so. More information about Plan D, including a survey to help choose the plan for you, is available at www.partdonline.com.


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