Find out if Medicare Part D is for you

By Carol Higgins Taylor, Special to the BDN
Posted Nov. 22, 2010, at 7:54 p.m.

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D is from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. This is the time for you to review the plan you are enrolled in and make changes for the coming year.

Eastern Area Agency on Aging is holding Med D clinics all over our region to help educate Medicare beneficiaries about the many available plans.

If you are unable to afford some of the costs associated with Medicare D, Lee F. White, state health insurance assistance program coordinator, wants to meet you. She may have a way to save you some money.

“Here in Maine, we are lucky to have the Medicare Savings Plan, also known as the Buy-In, because it provides great benefits to Medicare beneficiaries,” said White. “The MSPs give assistance to people with limited income. There is also no asset test, so whatever you have in the bank, be it an IRA, a CD, stocks and bonds — none of it counts, nor does your house or car. What does count, and all that is looked at, is your monthly income.”

If someone qualifies for MSP, he or she is automatically eligible for a federal subsidy that will help pay the cost of enrolling in Medicare Part D.

Eligible seniors do not have to pay the monthly premium for most Part D plans. In addition, there is no cost at the pharmacy for generic drugs, and a co-pay of only about $2.68 for brand-name prescriptions that are included on the Part D formulary.

One section of the MSP called Qualified Medicare Beneficiary also helps pay some costs associated with Medicare A and B, the parts of the program that cover medical care and hospitalization.

Generally speaking, individuals whose income is $1,700 per month or less, and married couple with incomes of $2,300 per month or less, may be eligible for MSP.

“I never want anyone to rule themselves out of a program if they think that they even come close to those numbers,” White said.

So, take a look at your income, and if there is a chance that you are eligible, give us a call. We want to save you all the money we can. Meeting with one of our staff is quick and easy, and you may walk out of here with a little bit more money in your budget.

An individual appointment at EAAA takes about a half hour. Seniors should bring their red-white-and-blue Medicare card, a list of all current medications, including dose and frequency, and income information.

“If a person’s or couple’s only income is Social Security, DHHS verifies that with Social Security. But if there is a pension of any sort, we need proof of that. Sometimes the easiest way to provide that is with a monthly bank statement, since most people have things direct-deposited. We will check it all out and maybe get you signed up if you qualify. It is that simple,” White said.

Saving money was never so easy.

Carol Higgins Taylor,  a columnist for The Weekly, is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/11/22/health/363597/ printed on October 20, 2014