Medicare program deadline looms - East Valley Tribune: Business

Medicare program deadline looms

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Posted: Saturday, May 13, 2006 8:08 am | Updated: 4:01 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It’s down to the wire for Arizona Medicare beneficiaries who haven’t yet signed up for prescription drug coverage.

Seniors have until midnight May 15 to sign up.

As of last week, more than 31 million Americans have signed up for prescription drug coverage, including more than 620,260 Arizonans. Most in Arizona have signed up for Medicare Advantage with Prescription Drugs.

“A lot of people have been looking at the information, talking to some of the resources in the community and doing all their research to help them in making a confident decision about what drug plan would best fit their individual needs,” said Peter Ashkenaz, Medicare spokesman.

“ Once you sign up, that’s all you have to do. The plan has the ability to change the name-brand drugs that they have on their list, but if you enroll in a plan because it has a drug, you’ll be grandfathered in for that name-brand drug through the end of the year.”

Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance that covers both brandname and generic prescription drugs at participating pharmacies. Everyone with Medicare is eligible for this coverage, regardless of either income and resources, health status or current prescription expenses.

“It’s a voluntary program and not everybody needs to sign up for it,” Ashkenaz said. “Many people already receive creditable coverage or coverage that’s as good as the Medicare coverage through other programs. There’s people who had been on Medicaid who were automatically enrolled in the plan, and I would imagine that you’ve got a lot of people who are retired military who are getting coverage through the Ve terans Administration.”

Also, many seniors already have coverage through their former employers, he said. “For the people who don’t have that coverage, what this does is for the very first time provides drug coverage under the Medicare program,” Ashkenaz said.

Seniors need to have all of their drugs and dosages in front of them, as well as their Medicare card, when signing up, he said. Calling (800) MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov on the Internet for more infomation.

“The next opportunity to sign up would be Nov. 15 through Dec. 31, and coverage would begin Jan. 1,” he said.

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