Medicare Part D enrollment can be tricky

Staff writer

Enrollment in Medicare Part D, a federal program to subsidize the costs of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries, begins Oct. 14 and lasts until Dec. 7.

This year seniors will find some changes to the program. The largest being premiums will go up by about $1 and the deductibles will fall from around $325 to $310.

Gayla Ratzlaff, Marion County Department on Aging Coordinator, said Part D is like insurance for people 65 and over to get lower drug prices. Different plans can lower prices of prescriptions drastically.

“Seniors enrolled pay 25 percent of medication costs up to a certain amount, last year, it was $2,800,” she said. “Part D plans will pay the rest of the cost.”

According to a study released by the Center of Medicare, more than 6.6 million users of Medicare have saved more than $7 billion on prescription drugs. This comes to about $1,000 per beneficiary.

“We encourage people to have a plan and see if their current plan is still good,” Ratzlaff said. “During open enrollment last year, we helped 300 people who had questions or wanted to get enrolled in the program. I try to make myself available to help as much as possible.”

Those who are enrolled in Part D can pick up their prescriptions at any local pharmacy.

Traci Lanning, pharmacist at Marion Health Mart, said they take every Medicare plan there is.

“Customers can pay their co-pay here and we will help answer any question we can about their policy,” she said.

Navigating the Medicare waters can be tricky. Shirley Bowers said she has found a plan that takes care of all her needs.

“It makes a big difference for me,” she said. “I pay a small fee a month and get my prescriptions at a low cost. I save significantly.”

Bowers said she has one prescription that costs around $60.

“It’s high,” she said. “Then I talked to my insurance person and he said you’re lucky; it would be so much more expensive if you didn’t have Part D.”

Virginia Downing has a different opinion.

“I don’t save a dang thing,” she said.

Downing’s prescription is not covered by Part D.

“If you’re enrolled in Medicare you have to have a policy,” she said. “There’s a big variance between policies and they change every year. It helps people who take more medication more.”

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