Medicare Prescription Drug Deadline Approaches

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

May 9, 2006

For seniors still considering the Medicare drug benefit, the next six days are crunch time. But experts said not many seniors are rushing to sign on the dotted line.

At 83-years-old, Maggie Mays is struggling to understand Medicare Plan D.

"I want to see if I could get the medicine cheaper under the Medicare plan but nobody I talked to knew what was going on, so I just don't understands it," Mays said.

Mays turned to the Humana Enrollment Bus employees for some help. Humana visited the Wal-Mart in Charlottesville to give people like Mays a helping hand with this complicated Medicare program. With 41 different prescription drug plans and 13 different providers to choose from seniors are finding it difficult to choose the right plan for them now and in the future.

"I'm not taking any medications, I'm not too alarmed about it but that day may come," said Peter Wierelga, who signed up for a Medicare plan.

Seniors want to make sure those prescriptions will be covered in the future. That is another common complaint. The plan issuer could stop covering medication anytime they want, leaving the seniors to pay the bills themselves until they change their plan the following year.

"People that are enrolled in those plans will be scrambling later this year to find a new plan," said Gordon Walker, the CEO of the Jefferson Area Board of Aging.

The government is still trying to work out the kinks, but it seems they may be losing consumer confidence in the process. Mays said her current provider is looking better and better.

"I don't know, I might just keep what I got," said Mays.

The deadline is May 15, 2006 to sign up without a penalty. The late enrollment fee does not apply to low-income seniors.


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