Medicare open enrollment now under way

Published 8:53 pm Monday, November 27, 2006

By By Michele Gerlach – special to the standard
Open enrollment for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage in the 2007 calendar year is under way.
Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older (and for younger people with disabilities), offers insurance coverage to help pay for prescription drugs.
Brewton pharmacist Danny Cottrell, owner of Medical Center Pharmacy, said it's important for those eligible to sign up.
For instance, the cost of the Humana Complete plan has increased 30 percent.
The &#8220donut hole” is the coverage gap. AARP explains it this way: If your total drug costs, that is, the amount paid by both you and your drug plan, are higher than $2,400 a year, you will pay 100 percent of the cost of your drugs up to $3,850 (total) out-of-pocket before your coverage starts again.
Premiums don't count as out-of-pocket drug costs. Those eligible for coverage have until Dec. 31 to enroll, he said.
He encouraged those eligible for Medicare to check with Social Security to determine if they are eligible for additional help with the drug plan.
In a one-person household in which the income is less than $14,600, and in a two-person household in which the income is less than $19,800, persons are generally eligible for additional help.
Last year, Cottrell conducted numerous sessions in which he helped people determine which plan to choose. &#8220We saw 2,300 people and 1,400 signed up for one of the various plans,” he said.
This year there's not as much traffic, but still some people are interested in changing or signing up. &#8220About a third of our customers are doing some kind of tweaking to their plans,” he said.