The deadline is soon approaching to end enrollments for this year. Seniors who are eligible now and don't already have another acceptable prescription plan will have to pay a penalty for enrolling later. The penalty is paid for the life of the senior or until the senior decides to reject all prescription plans.
Some seniors are choosing not to enroll because it is confusing and because they don't believe it will benefit them. The question of benefits really helping is like gambling. Are you gambling on being sick or on staying healthy? The health statistics just aren't in your favor for staying healthy well into advanced years of 85 and older. Of course, there are notable exceptions and you might be one of them. However, purchasing just a small plan now will keep you from paying a penalty later if you want to enroll at another time. Only you can guess if the cost of the penalty will be smaller than the amount of premium you would pay until you actually need the prescription plan.
Another thing to consider is that enrollment will only be open for a limited period of time in the future for people who are already eligible but decided not to enroll. You can't wait until you need it and then just enroll right away.
There are eight million low-income seniors who would benefit from this program. The seniors with the lowest income and the disabled had their Medicaid drug coverage switched to the new Medicare Prescription Drug Part ‘D”. This change cost nothing for the lowest income seniors unless they selected a high-cost plan.
The Social Security Administration sent letters last summer to low-income seniors who did not qualify for Medicaid but made less than $19,000, notifying them that they might qualify for free coverage or reduced monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. A large percentage of those who received this letter ignored it. Most of them would qualify and benefit significantly from the new prescription plan.
Seniors who think they might qualify for this coverage should contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit their local office. To qualify, you must provide documentation of the value of your property. Individual who have assets (other than the primary residence) which are under $11,500 and under $23,000 for couples, probably will qualify. Do not include your home, vehicles, burial plots, or personal possessions as part of your assets. If you go to the Social Security Office, you need to bring documentation of income and resources. Documentation may include bank and investment statements, current cash value of your life insurance policies, stock certificates, tax returns, pension award letters and payroll statements. Remember that the cash value of life insurance policies are the amounts you would receive today if the policy was cashed in.
Probably one of the reasons that seniors have not chosen to enroll is the difficulty of choosing a plan. There are many plans to choose from and the benefits are not the same. It is very important to compare plans based on the medications the individual currently takes. The best way to compare plans is to use the Medicare Web tool at the following Website: http://formularyfinder.medicare.gov/formularyfinder/selectstate.asp. Seniors can also call 800-MEDICARE to enroll. Initially the waits were very long and many people became frustrated at having to wait so long on the phone. However, the waiting time has been significantly reduced, not totally eliminated.
The Extension Office has some information available to help you choose a plan. Call the Grayson County Extension Office at 259-3492 and we will mail it to you or drop by the office at 123 Commerce Drive in Leitchfield.