Adults Nearing 65 Should Consider Prescription Drug Coverage Options

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The Department of Human Resources, Division of Aging Services' (DAS) GeorgiaCares program is encouraging older adults nearing age 65, or on Medicare due to a disability, to consider their prescription drug coverage options during the Medicare Part D open enrollment period (November 15 through December 31, 2008).

"Open enrollment is a good time for adults nearing age 65 to look at their options for prescription drug coverage," said Maria Greene, director of the Division of Aging Services. "GeorgiaCares SHIP counselors are available through the statewide network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to help them understand their options."

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Adults nearing age 65 need to make choices about their Medicare coverage and prescription plan options because Medicare Part D may be a significant factor in their future. Enrolling in Medicare will depend on an individual's circumstances. Part A is for hospitalization, Part B is for doctor's visits and Part D is for prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may include Parts A-D, or only A and B.

A person will receive Medicare Part A automatically if he or she has worked and paid into the system through FICA. Some people will be automatically enrolled into Part B, including those entitled to Social Security disability benefits and those who elected to receive Social Security retirement income beginning at age 62. Beneficiaries in these two groups will be notified by the Social Security Administration (SSA) about three months before turning 65.

Adults about to turn 65 who are not yet receiving Social Security should contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to sign up for their retirement benefit. At that time, they will have a choice of signing up for Parts B and D. They can enroll in Part B through the SSA, and in Part D through a Medicare-approved plan that they choose based on their current medications.

They should enroll in B and D within three months of turning 65 to avoid a late enrollment penalty paid to Medicare. Adults who continue working after age 65 and are employed by companies with more than 20 people can delay enrolling in B and D. When they decide to stop working, they can go back and pick up Parts B and D without a penalty.

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