Plan D sign-up begins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2005

Special to the Journal

Enrollment for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan has begun and the Alabama Department of Senior Services is advising seniors to take their time and choose the plan that best suits their needs.

While enrollment began today, people with Medicare have until May 15, 2006 to sign up.

“The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan is a great opportunity because, for the first time, Medicare recipients will have prescription drug coverage,” Alabama Department of Senior Services Executive Director Irene Collins said. “There are many plans to choose from and evaluate and it’s very important that people make an informed decision.

Remember, take your time and choose wisely.”

Medicare recipients that sign up by December 31 will get drug coverage by January 1, 2006.

After that, coverage begins the first day of the month after the month they join.

Recipients that do not sign up by May 15, 2006 will pay a higher premium.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan is insurance and is not mandatory.

Most people that enroll will have to pay a monthly premium and a deductible.

Here are some steps people can take to help them choose a plan:

n Make a list of the drugs you currently take including name, dosage, price and how often you take them.

n Review the plans to determine which plan or plans best suit your needs.

n Write down the names of the pharmacy or pharmacies you use.

Ask your pharmacies what plans they will accept.

You can call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) to get more information.

If you want to enroll by telephone, Medicare can give you the contact information for the company you choose. People are encouraged to be patient because a high volume of calls are expected as enrollment begins.

Calling during non-peak hours such as early morning or late at night may decrease waiting time.

Local help is available by calling 1-800-Ageline (1-800-243-5463).

Some people with limited income and resources may be eligible for extra help.

To find out more, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit