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Signing up on Part D deadline? There's help

By CURTIS KRUEGER
Published May 14, 2006


Need some last-minute help today? Here are ways to find it:

The staff of “My Medicare Matters’’ will be available today:  

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kmart, 7850 113th St., Seminole.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, 13601 N 22nd St., Tampa.

Get on the computer and go to www.mymedicarematters.com .

Pick up the phone. And call  1-800-633-4227. The staff there will be taking calls until midnight.

Today is the deadline to sign up for the federal government’s new prescription drug plan that can dramatically cut the cost of medicine for senior citizens and disabled people who qualify for Medicare.

 

“The time is now,’’ said Colette Vallee, who is working on the issue with the Florida Council on Aging. “If you wait, you may incur penalties, and you will carry those penalties for the rest of your life.’’

 

The new Medicare Part D program pays part of the costs of prescription drugs, which can be so expensive some seniors have been known to skip medicine or cut pills in half to make them last.

If you miss today’s deadline and sign up later, you could be required to pay a penalty in the form of slightly higher premiums.

Vallee noted that people who sign up today can change their individual Part D plans at a later enrollment period that begins Nov. 15.

People who miss today’s deadline can sign up after Nov. 15 also, but they may pay slightly higher premiums.


What if you qualify but don’t currently need a lot of medication?

“It’s a no-brainer,’’ said Bob Archer, a 76-year-old who is Pinellas and Pasco coordinator for SHINE, a program affiliated with the state Department of Elder Affairs.

He said people need the prescription drug program in the same way homeowners need insurance in case of hurricanes. Anyone healthy today could be sick tomorrow … Bob Archer doesn’t take any medications whatsoever, and Bob Archer is signed up.’’

 

[Last modified May 14, 2006, 22:25:33]


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