2006-12-14 / Medical

Help Available For Those Who Need Advice On Medicare Part D

December 31, 2006 is the deadline for enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or for switching to a different plan.

Ideally, seniors eligible for Me-dicare will have signed up by Dec-ember 8, so as to guarantee a smooth transition and/or receipt of a benefits card by January 1, 2007, when the 2007 plans take effect. People eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual-eligibles) have until March 31 to make their decision – and they must make a decision because they will not be as-signed a plan as they were this year – but they risk having to pay a late enrollment fee if they wait until the last minute.

Coverage in 2007 will be different from that in 2006. The mandated initial yearly benefit has in-creased from $2,250 to $2,400; the deductible has increased from $250 to $265, and the coverage gap (doughnut hole) has widened from $2,850 to $3,051.

The number of companies offering Part D plans in New York State has increased from 46 to 61. Most insurers that provided Part D plans last year have altered their premium rates and/or their co-pay tiers and/or their drug formularies and/or their protocols, such as the need for prior authorization for certain drugs.

Given the many changes and the many choices that Part D eligibles need to make, they may need a little assistance in gathering reliable information to help them decide.

The Medical Society of the State of New York, therefore, offers New Yorkers the following list of places that offer information and/ or help.

National Medicare office

800-633-4227

www.Medicare.gov

Click on “Medicare prescription drug plans by state for 2007;” then click on “NY” to obtain a comparative description of all plans available to New Yorkers.

New York-based Medicare Rights Center 800-333-4114 www.medi-carerights.org

New York State’s Elderly Phar-maceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program

http://www.health.state.ny.us/health_care/epic/index.htm

EPIC is a New York State-sponsored plan for senior citizens who need help paying for their prescrip-tions.

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