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GeorgiaCares offers help with MedicareS drug plan

POSTED: November 23, 2009 8:47 a.m.
For Medicare beneficiaries, it’s time for a checkup. Not necessarily the usual doctor-patient visit, but an analysis of Part D prescription drug plans and additional benefits that should be reviewed every year at this time.
During the open enrollment period from Nov. 15-Dec. 31, subscribers to all Medicare Part D drug coverage plans have an opportunity to change to a new provider.
Finding the right coverage, however, can be a daunting prospect in a marketplace where companies offer dozens of competing, confusing drug plans. The Coastal Area Agency on Aging, part of the Coastal Regional Commission, helps with drug plan research through Georgia-
Cares, Georgia’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program. GeorgiaCares provides free, unbiased and factual information on Medicare, prescription drug assistance programs and other health insurance issues.
According to Monica Couch, elder rights program manager for the Area Agency on Aging, comparison-shopping Part D plans is extremely important in a time when the cost of health care is escalating. The best way to determine the right choice for each individual is to utilize the plan finder at www.medicare.gov.
“The plan finder is an excellent tool for determining the best coverage while considering a person’s unique health needs, access to transportation and other factors,” Couch said. “The site allows you to enter the names and dosage of medications a person takes on a regular basis, plus other details like the home address and the name of a preferred pharmacy. You can also see if a particular pharmacy is in the plan’s network.”
Amanda Carter, regional GeorgiaCares coordinator, said computer skills are not required to make a good decision. Rep. Jack Kingston has scheduled a Medicare Part D Training and Open Enrollment Workshop on Monday, Dec. 14, from 9 a.m.-noon, in computer lab 109 on Savannah Tech’s Hinesville campus, 100 Technology Drive. Staff and trained volunteers from GeorgiaCares will be on hand for information and individual Part D counseling sessions. Attendees should have their Medicare cards and a list of all current prescription medications with them.
Those who cannot attend the workshop can still look to GeorgiaCares for individualized assistance, Carter reminded.   
“Anyone who needs help with finding a Part D plan can call us at 1-800-669-8387 for assistance,” Carter said. “We enter the person’s information into the plan finder and find the three lowest-cost plans. The site generates a report that shows each plan’s premiums, co-payments and if a plan has a deductible or not, as well as other details. We print the report and send it to the beneficiary.”
Another service offered by GeorgiaCares is a benefits checkup, which provides research and application assistance for Medicare savings programs and the low-income subsidy. Although these programs that help pay Medicare-related expenses have been available for years, the Center for Medicare Services has estimated more than 3,600 coastal Georgia residents who qualify for financial assistance have failed to apply. Given the current state of the economy, advocates of the elderly feel that many seniors are missing out on these valuable benefits.
 

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