GeorgiaCares Helps Beneficiaries Review Drug Plan Options

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The GeorgiaCares State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is helping Medicare recipients make informed decisions about which prescription drug and Advantage plan options are best for them.

Medicare Part D Open Enrollment begins November 15, which means recipients h ave until December 31, 2008, to make their choices. With so many options available, choosing the right one is important.

"GeorgiaCares SHIP counselors will be available to help people sort through their options to choose the one that best meets their individual needs and preferences," said Maria Greene, director of the Division of Aging Services.

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Georgia Cares SHIP counselors are available through the statewide network of Area Agencies on Aging and will provide community education sessions and answer hotline calls to help beneficiaries understand their options for next year. Beneficiaries can call GeorgiaCares toll-free at 1-800-669-8387 or Medicare at 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227) for assistance.

There are 50 Medicare prescription drug plans available in Georgia for 2009. Of these, 28 have $0 deductibles, five have premiums under $25, with the lowest premium being $16.10. Twenty-eight Medicare Advantage plans have a $0 premium.

Companies started marketing their plans October 1, 2008. Beginning October 15, Medicare beneficiaries can start comparing the 2009 drug plan online at www.medicare.gov. The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Aging Services' GeorgiaCares SHIP and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are advising people who wish to make a change to do so as close to the opening date as possible to ensure their coverage will be available on January 1, 2009.

GeorgiaCares SHIP services are free and also assist Medicare beneficiaries on Medicare, Medicaid and Medigap matters, including Medicare Advantage health plan options, long-term care insurance, claims, resolution to billing problems, information and referral on public benefit programs aimed at those with limited incomes and assets, and other health care insurance information.

GeorgiaCares SHIP urges everyone to review their coverage and make sure that any changes to the plan for 2009 will still meet their needs. Beneficiaries who do not want to make a change can remain in their plan from 2008.

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