By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
About 70 people took advantage of a review of Medicare Part D, offered by SW Four Extension Service the past year.
Dec. 31 was the deadline for those people who are on the plan, which involves prescription drugs. Every year, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, those people need to review their plans.
Nancy Frecks, Family Consumer Science Educator for the Southwest Four Extension Service, has been meeting with people in Chase County to review their plans. She said she’s met with about 70 people in the four-county area so far.
People need to review their plans because the drugs covered can change, the cost can change and prescriptions can change.
Frecks takes people’s Medicare information, birth date and prescription information. She then figures out which plan is the best. There are 48 different plans in Nebraska this year, she noted.
“There’s not one that is the best or not the best,” she stated. For area residents, Frecks works closely with Jim Hanes at Adams Drug in Imperial to make sure that the plans she recommends are accepted by his pharmacy.
Those qualifying for Medicare Part D are those on Medicare Part B (for doctors’ appointments), those who are 65 years of age, or disabled.
The deadline to change the plan was Dec. 31 unless a person is on a low income subsidy (not welfare), on Medicare/Medicaid, or has moved into or out of a nursing home. Then, changes can be made any time of year.
Frecks said Medicare Part D has a “gap coverage,” or “doughnut hole.” That’s when a person gets partially reimbursed for prescription costs below $2,700. From $2,700 to $4,200 a person has to pay the full cost of a prescription. Above $4,200 Medicare again pays part of the cost.
Frecks got involved with reviewing Medicare Part D in 2006, when the government was trying to figure out how to approach the most people in rural areas. Extension offices are mostly located in each county in Nebraska, and can reach most people.
The West Central Area Agency on Aging supervises the program.
Persons don’t need to meet with Frecks if they prefer to review their plans online. That website is www.medicare.gov.
Next Medicare Part B
If a person is eligible for Medicare Part B medical insurance, but didn’t sign up for it when he or she first became eligible for Medicare, there is another opportunity to apply.
Open season for Medicare Part B runs from January 1 until March 31, 2009. For each 12-month period that a person is eligible for Medicare Part B, but doesn’t sign up, the amount of monthly premium increases by 10 percent.
Medicare Part B covers some medical expenses not covered by Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), such as doctors’ fees, outpatient hospital visits, and other medical services and supplies.