Senior services helps with Part D

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Special to the Journal

The Alabama Department of Senior Services is helping Alabamians eligible for the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to understand the program and is assisting them with enrollment.

In an effort to educate citizens, State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) coordinators and volunteers have spoken at civic meetings, churches, senior centers and various other groups in Alabama.

Several of the coordinators have been interviewed by media outlets in their area for news stories pertaining to the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

These activities have reached over 200,000 Alabamians.

“Our department and the 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) have been proactive with community education and outreach,” Alabama Department of Senior Services Executive Director Irene Collins said.

“We are working to ensure that Alabamians make an informed decision and choose a plan that best fits their needs.

We are using several means to get information to the public and answer any questions they may have.”

ADSS and the local AAAs have already held information and enrollment sessions and more will take place in the coming weeks and months.

These events will be held at various locations across the state where volunteers help people use the Medicare website to compare plans.

Individuals are asked to do their homework before coming to an enrollment event.

People should have a list of their medications including, name of the drugs, dosage, how often they take it, price and what pharmacy or pharmacies they use.

Volunteers are not allowed to choose a plan; the decision must be made by the individual.

It is important to remember that 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.

“Just like shopping for car insurance, you need to evaluate your needs and pick the plan that best meets those needs,” Collins added. “The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan your spouse or neighbor chooses may not be the plan you should choose.”

Enrollment began November 15 and continues until May 15, 2006.

People who 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.

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

For more information, contact John Matson at (334) 353-8712 or