Medicare Weekly News #11 for November 22, 2005

Media Relations: Tel: 202-326-1816

MEDIA ALERT

Web Site Helps Select Medicare Rx Plan

Note: Medicare Weekly News (MWN) is a weekly series for newsmakers nationwide brought to you by the Medicare Rx Education Network. MWN provides important information about a timely topic on the Medicare prescription drug benefit; it will be distributed to newsrooms each Monday. For questions about the Network, please contact Brian Franklin at 202-312-1098.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder is up and running. The plan finder, which was put together by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, allows the user to type in the Medicare beneficiary’s information and preferences and the interactive site then comes up with a short list of plans based on that information.

To access the plan finder, log onto the Medicare agency’s Web site, www.medicare.gov. On the site’s home page, choose the option “Compare Medicare Prescription Drug Plans,” and then follow the site’s instructions. Beneficiaries should be prepared with specific personal information, such as their Medicare number, prescriptions (name, dosage, frequency and cost of each) and preferred pharmacies.

Additionally, instead of entering a beneficiary’s personal information, users can simply perform a generalized search by answering a series of basic questions that the plan finder will ask. The drug plan finder will then offer customized information based on the answers provided.

Open enrollment for Medicare’s prescription drug benefit began November 15. It continues through May 15, 2006.

Every beneficiary can choose from several plans. Many resources are available to help select a suitable one.

  • If Internet access is not an option, beneficiaries can call the Medicare agency’s hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). This hotline provides live assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The live representative can answer any questions and help beneficiaries complete the steps needed to determine their best choice of plans. Callers may be required to hold for several minutes before a representative is available; however, representatives can offer invaluable guidance in sorting through information. TTY/TTD callers can dial 1-877-486-2048.
  • Medicare’s home site ( www.medicare.gov ) offers extensive information on the new prescription coverage and provides frequently asked questions.
  • The Medicare & You 2006 handbook explains the new prescription drug benefit and lists the plans available in a particular state.
  • Thousands of community events are being held across the country. Dates and times are listed in local newspapers.
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    The Medicare Rx Education Network provides information and assistance with outreach and enrollment for the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. The network, which includes 70 national organizations, is chaired by former U.S. Senator John Breaux. Members share an interest in educating Medicare beneficiaries about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and work closely with the appropriate federal agencies to obtain up-to-date information to ensure that information disseminated by the network about Medicare Part D is factual and accurately conveyed, thereby pre-empting confusion about the benefit and equipping beneficiaries and their caregivers to make informed choices. By sharing information with each other about member organizations’ independent efforts, collaborating on activities, and identifying ways to work together, the network aims to eliminate duplication of efforts and maximize the effectiveness of outreach efforts. The network does not engage in legislative activities or take positions on pending legislative or administrative policies related to the Part D benefit and its implementation.

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