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At a glance: Drug subsidies

By STEPHEN NOHLGREN, Times Staff Writer
Published September 25, 2005

Medicare beneficiaries who are also on Medicaid will receive a letter in November advising them to pick a drug plan before Dec. 31. If they don't choose a plan, they will be assigned to one. These people need not apply for special subsidies.

For low-income people not now on Medicaid, getting a Medicare drug subsidy is a two-step process:

You must complete an application and be deemed eligible for low-income assistance. You can get applications by calling the Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov and clicking on "Apply Here." Information is available in English and Spanish.

You must also join a private Medicare drug plan after signup starts on Nov. 15. Detailed information on drug plans will become available through many sources in mid October.

For additional information, contact SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders) toll-free at 1-800-963-5337. You may have to leave a message, but a volunteer will call you back.

SHINE volunteers and Social Security specialists will answer questions and help people apply for subsidies at the Senior Lifestyle and Health Expo, Oct. 22 at Harborview Center in Clearwater, and at the Senior Friendly Extravaganza Nov. 16-17 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

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