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Assistance Available for Medicare Part D Choices
Release Date: November 07, 2007

Assistance Available for Medicare Part D Choices

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) reminds people with Medicare in Sussex County that it is time to re-evaluate their health and prescription coverage. The Annual Coordinated Election Period is from November 15 through December 31 of each year. For most people with Medicare, this is the only opportunity to change, add or drop a Medicare Part D (prescription) plan. If a change is made during the Annual Coordinated Election Period, it will become effective on January 1, 2008.

Before taking any action, it is very important for someone with Medicare Part D coverage to read the “Annual Notice of Change” that all Medicare prescription drug plans must mail to their members by October 31, 2007. The notice advises of any changes to the plan in terms of premiums, deductible, co-payments and formulary (list of drugs the plan will cover) for the year 2008.

Many people with Medicare also have coverage from an employer/union plan that includes coverage for prescription drugs. The coverage may be as good as or better than the Medicare benefit. This is called “creditable coverage”. People with creditable coverage do not need to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. Every year, by November 15th, employer/union plan administrators must provide written notice to covered members whether or not their coverage is creditable. Questions about whether coverage is creditable should be directed to the specific employer/union plan.

For those people with Medicare who do not have creditable coverage and have not yet enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, the Annual Coordinated Election Period is the only time during the year when they can enroll in a plan. SHIP counselors will be available to help people compare and enroll in a plan. SHIP counselors provide free, unbiased information and assistance to people with Medicare or their representatives.

SHIP Counselors will be on-site to answer questions and provide assistance at the Healthy Living Festival sponsored by the Sussex County Division of Senior Services at the Hardyston Middle School, 183 Wheatsworth Road, Hamburg, on Saturday, October 27 between the hours of 9:30am and 3:30pm. Assistance is also provided at the Seniors Services offices in Newton. Medicare beneficiaries are reminded to bring a list of their medications, dosages and frequency when conferring with SHIP counselors. To make an appointment with a Sussex County SHIP counselor, call 973-579-0555 Ext. 1223.

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