October 30, 2007
Common Sense on Changing Medicare Prescription Drug Plans
As November 15 approaches, I want to remind Iowans enrolled in Medicare that they may choose from several different prescription drug plans. Below are answers to a number of frequently asked questions which I hope will help you choose the prescription drug plans that best suits your needs.
Q: When can I change my Medicare prescription drug plan?
A: Generally speaking, anyone who is enrolled in a prescription drug plan may choose a different plan from November 15 to December 31 of each year. Under special circumstances, beneficiaries may be allowed to change plans at other times of the year. If you decide to join a plan at a later date, you may be assessed a penalty for late enrollment.
Q: Where can I get information that will help me decide which plan is best for me?
A: As we approach November 15, you will likely begin to receive information from a number of prescription drug plans. You may contact these plans individually and ask them about the benefits they offer and any out-of-pocket costs (including monthly premiums). You can also compare plans online at www.medicare.gov. On this website, you may research which drugs are covered, the costs of each plan, and determine which plan is best for you. If you need additional help, you can contact the Iowa Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at 1-800-351-4664 (TDD 1-800-735-2942) and speak with trained specialists who can help you navigate the complex network of plans.
Q: How do I switch plans?
A: Once you have chosen the prescription drug plan that best suits you, you can enroll online at www.medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-42273).
Q: How can I get help paying the out-of-pocket expenses not covered under my prescription drug plan?
A: Many Medicare recipients who have little income can receive extra help paying for their medications. Because this information is closely monitored by the Social Security Administration, you may receive a mailing from that agency which states that you may be eligible for extra help. If you are interested in applying for assistance, you must contact your local Social Security office. To find the Social Security office that serves your area, go to www.socialsecurity.gov or call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Q: Who can I contact if I have problems with my prescription drug plans?
A: I urge anyone who is experiencing difficulties with their Medicare prescription drug plan to contact one of my five offices in Iowa:
Cedar Rapids: 319-365-4504
Des Moines: 515-284-4574
Sioux City: 712-252-1550