Meeting the Deadline for Medicare Part D

May 9, 2006 -- Posted at 5:07 p.m. CST


JONESBORO, AR -- The deadline to sign up for Medicare Part D is coming up on Monday, March 15th.


Registration for the plan started last fall, with coverage beginning at the first of the year.


Since November, the Center on Aging--Northeast has been busy helping area seniors sign up for Medicare Part D.


“There are so many plans out there.  There are 41 plans, so you want to make sure that you pick the right one, with the right kind of drugs,” said Cynthia Abel with the Center on Aging--Northeast.


Like many other places in Region 8, the Center on Aging--Northeast offers free assistance in choosing a plan.


“There’s been so much talk about the Medicare prescription drug plan, I wanted to find out which one was going to be best for me,” said senior Brenda Hetler.


With less than a week left until the deadline, Hetler is deciding if she should sign up for a Medicare drug plan or stay with what she has.  


“My husband has insurance through work, so I’m covered under that.  I didn’t know if this was going to be better or not,” said Hetler.


“We can go through the plans, print a report and then we can register them on-line,” said Abel.


Medicare Part D is very confusing for many people and even after the information session, Hetler said she was still confused.


“She was talking about a gap… certain prescriptions and certain amounts.  I guess allowable amounts, and so I need to go home and look at this and make a decision,” said Hetler.

What many seniors may not realize is a gap in coverage in many of the plans available.  If you haven't signed up for a specific gap plan, chances are you won't be covered after a certain amount of time. 


When you go to the drugstore to get your medication, the total price of your prescriptions is added up in an account.

Once you reach $2,250 you are in a ''gap'' where you won't receive any coverage on prescriptions until you spend over $3,000 on your own.


“I’m afraid a lot of people have signed up on plans without checking to see if they’re going to hit the gap.  They’re going to be surprised later on when they find the plan isn’t going to keep paying for them,” said Abel.

Over the past five months, Abel says she has helped over 500 people with the Medicare Part D plan.


The Center on Aging Northeast is offering free one-on-one meetings through Monday, May 15th.


You can reach the Center on Aging Northeast at 870-930-9900 or 1-800-754-0557.


Congressman Marion Berry is making his office available as well for senior citizens who need assistance.


You can reach the congressman’s office at 1-800-866-2701.