News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2006


Medicare recipients should buy drug plan

Say you are 65 or older, in perfect health and don't take prescription medications. That might have you thinking about delaying enrollment in the Medicare drug plan until the time your doctor puts you on medication as part of the aging process.

That's probably not a good idea because the federal government anticipated some people would opt for delaying. It wants you to pay now to help support the cost of the program.

If you don't sign up by the May 15 deadline, your cost for the plan will go up for each month you delay enrolling.

The result can be that instead of paying $14 or $20 per month for a plan, you might be looking at $35 or higher in a year or so.

Some people haven't enrolled because they fear a landslide of paperwork. But signing up is easy. The government says telephone operators will help callers pick a plan and sign up in about 30 minutes. All callers need to have are their Medicare card and the prescriptions they take.

Keeping track of where you stand in meeting deductibles is easy, also. Your drug-plan company will send you a statement periodically that details your cost of medicines to date for the year and how much more expense you need to incur before the plan begins paying.

Alabama officials say that three-fourth of the state's eligible seniors enrolled, putting the state near the top nationwide in participation.

But some 130,000 people are yet to enroll. If you know people who haven't signed up, talk to them about doing so. The plan may be costing taxpayers more than it is worth to seniors, but it is better than no plan and will help pay your bills.

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