How To Choose Medicare Drug Plans

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The Department of Aging today urged older Pennsylvanians and other Medicare beneficiaries to attend local enrollment meetings designed to help them choose a federal Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Meetings will be held across the state.

"I strongly encourage all Medicare beneficiaries to take advantage of the help that is available through APPRISE counselors who will help them understand the various options and determine what is best for their needs," said acting Secretary of Aging John Michael Hall.

When choosing a Medicare drug plan for the first time or switching to a different one, comparing plans helps consumers select the option that best suits their specific needs.

Hall stressed the importance of the "three C's" when reviewing the Part D plans:

* Coverage: Check to see if your medications are covered on the plan's formulary.

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* Cost: Compare your current prescription costs to those of other Medicare drug plans and be certain to factor in premiums, deductibles and co-payments.

* Convenience: Determine if your current pharmacy works with the plan and if it offers a mail order option. Some plans may require Step Therapy, which means you could be required to first try a certain drug to treat a medical condition before a different drug will be covered.

The statewide meetings, sponsored by the Department of Aging and the 52 Area Agencies on Aging, are led by volunteers from the department's APPRISE program, which offers free, unbiased health insurance counseling to Medicare beneficiaries. The counselors can help by:

* Completing a Medicare Part D plan comparison based on individual prescription needs.

* Explaining the various costs involved in the Medicare Drug Plans in a specific area.

* Offering tips on how to save money during a coverage gap.

* Assisting in on-line enrollments.

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