MANY WAYS TO GET HELP WITH ENROLLING IN MEDICARE DRUG COVERAGE
In the weeks ahead, every Medicare beneficiary will need to make a decision about Medicare’s new prescription drug coverage. The goal of Medicare’s outreach efforts is to make sure Medicare beneficiaries can make confident, informed and straightforward decisions about the drug coverage. Many resources are available to help beneficiaries find out about the coverage and what it means for them, including pamphlets, electronic materials, outreach events, and grassroots education networks.
People with Medicare and those who care about them can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800 633-4227) anytime to get assistance with choosing and enrolling in a drug plan. They can also get assistance online at www.medicare.gov. Or they can get local help to make their decisions about coverage from their State Health Insurance Assistance Program, Area Agencies on Aging, and other resources in their community. Next week, the Administration on Aging will unveil the Eldercare Locator. By visiting www.eldercare.gov, anyone can find the location of the Eldercare counselor nearest them.
Another tool for beneficiaries will be the Medicare & You 2006 handbook, which will be mailed beginning in early October to every Medicare household. (A national version is available at http://www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/10050.pdf). The handbook includes guidance about what Medicare’s new coverage means for a beneficiary, based on what kind of drug coverage a he or she has now, and guidance on choosing a plan.
In mid-October, Medicare will provide tools that can provide personalized help for people find a drug plan or plans that are a good fit for them, based on what they want. People can prepare to use these tools by thinking about: how they pay for their drugs now, what drugs they take (to find out about cost savings), what coverage they want (such as no deductible, more comprehensive benefits, or fixed copays for generic and brand name drugs), and what pharmacies they prefer (for convenience). For people who think a particular organization may be a good fit for them, the tools also enable them to get personal information about what they can expect with that plan’s drug coverage. The tools include a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder to help beneficiaries compare plans based on what they want, in terms of cost, coverage, and convenience. Medicare will also provide the Medicare Advantage Plan Finder, which will help beneficiaries compare Medicare Advantage plans based on what matters to them. These tools will be available on line, on the phone, and through Medicare’s local partners.
After a beneficiary has chosen a plan that is a good fit for them, they can enroll on line or by mail, or by calling the plan’s toll-free phone number. All of the help sources listed above can provide this enrollment information.