Medicare drug plan events set for November, December

November 08, 2007|By Katrina Eversole

The Washington County Commission on Aging's Senior Health Insurance Program - SHIP - is expecting a large turnout for Medicare's second annual open enrollment period.

Beginning Nov. 15 and running through Dec. 31 of this year (as well as every year), a Medicare beneficiary may choose to enroll in one of the 52 Medicare Part D prescription plans that are available in Maryland for 2008.

In order to assist those who are Medicare-eligible, the Commission on Aging has scheduled 10 enrollment events - see schedule below - at its offices in the Aspiring to Serve building, 140 W. Franklin St., Hagerstown, and also at the Washington County Library. Elevator access is available at both locations, as well as free parking.

The annual prescription open enrollment period is the only time a Medicare beneficiary can switch drug plans. Exceptions to this rule - and the only time one can enroll outside of annual enrollment - are as follows:


1. You are either turning 65 or becoming eligible for Medicare due to a disability.

2. You have moved to Maryland from a different state.

3. You are losing your "creditable coverage" through an employer group plan. (Do you still have a letter from your employer stating that your drug plan is "as good as or better than Medicare"? If so, keep it in a safe place)

4. You become eligible for extra financial help (either 100 percent or partial subsidy) by submitting an application and having it approved by Social Security.

There is some financial help available to help offset the premium, deductible and co-pays of your selected prescription plan. Eligibility for these two programs is as follows:

"Extra Help" from the Social Security Administration is available if:

As an individual, your gross annual income is less than $15,315 and your assets are under $11,710.

As a couple, your gross annual income is less than $20,535 and your assets are under $23,410.

Applications and assistance are available at the SSA office, at 1258 Maryland Ave., Hagerstown.

For the Maryland Senior Prescription Drug Assistance Program, you are eligible if:

As an individual, your gross annual income is less than $30,630.

As a couple, if your gross annual income is less than $41,070.

(Assets do not count in this program.)

Applications are available by calling the Commission on Aging at 301-790-0275 or by attending one of the enrollment events.

Those who have high drug costs might want to consider applying for one of these financial assistance programs because there is no prescription plan that is designed to take a beneficiary through the "donut hole" with brand-name drugs this year.

The "donut hole" is a coverage gap that was written into the Medicare law. It states that when a person reaches a certain amount of "out of pocket" expense, he or she must pay retail for his or her prescriptions until they reach "catastrophic expense," at which time Medicare pays for 95 percent of the cost of your drugs.

In some cases, when a Medicare beneficiary reaches the donut hole, MEDBANK may be able to help obtain certain prescriptions if he or she meets eligibility requirements of the pharmaceutical companies.

Even if you are happy with your prescription drug plan this year, please let one of our well-trained counselors search the Medicare Web site to make sure you are in the best plan available to you for 2008.

Please notice the times that you can walk into the enrollment events. Be sure to bring your Medicare card, along with a list of your drugs (with dosages and strengths). No appointments will be made.

Katrina Eversole is a representative of the Senior Health Insurance Program who works with the Washington County Commission on Aging.

Medicare Part D Prescription Plan Schedule of Annual Enrollment Events

Each event will have two sessions, in the morning from 9:30 a.m. to noon and in the afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Please bring your Medicare card and list of medications, or, if it is easier, bring your pill bottles.

November events

· Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Washington County Commission on Aging (WCCOA) offices.

· Tuesday, Nov. 20, at WCCOA offices.

· Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the Washington County Free Library's main branch.

· Thursday, Nov. 29, at WCCOA offices.

December events

· Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the library's main branch.

· Thursday, Dec. 6, at WCCOA offices.

· Tuesday, Dec. 11, at WCCOA offices.

· Thursday, Dec. 13, at the library's main branch.

· Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the library's main branch.

· Thursday, Dec. 20, at WCCOA offices.

Washington County Free Library, 100 S. Potomac St. Enrollment will be held in the second floor-computer lab. There is free parking. Check at front desk for elevator access.

Washington County Commission on Aging, 301-790-0275, 140 W. Franklin St., fourth floor. There is elevator access. You may park in Christ's Reformed Church lot on left side of median (spaces 48-82). Those with disabilities may park in the Aspiring to Serve lot against the brick wall facing Prospect Street.

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