Medicare Weekly News #14 for December 12, 2005

Media Relations: Tel: 202-326-1816

MEDIA ALERT

Plan Finder Finds Followers

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 enrollment period for Medicare’s prescription drug benefit began almost one month ago. As more seniors become aware of the benefit and its choices, they are consulting Medicare’s online Plan Finder tool for help with choosing a plan.

The Plan Finder, found at www.medicare.gov , is designed to help enrollees determine their options most efficiently and effectively. Beneficiaries may type in specific, personal information to the site – such as preferred pharmacies, yearly income and current prescriptions – and then the site suggests the beneficiary’s best plans based on that information.

Faced with twenty, thirty or even forty potential prescription plans can be overwhelming. But the Plan Finder can reduce your choices from forty to four with accelerated speed and efficiency.

According to James Firman, president and chief executive officer of The National Council on Aging, “The Plan Finder is the best …tool available. It’s difficult to do this (choose the best prescription benefit) without the Internet because of the nuances involved in the decision.”

According to statistics, 11 million seniors are able to navigate the Internet and take advantage of the Plan Finder with little trouble.

For seniors without Internet access, there are plenty of options. In many parts of the country (CA, NC, FL), Medicare is sending out vans complete with computers and counselors who can help you navigate the Plan Finder site. For those who may not have access to a van, call 1-800-MEDICARE or your local SHIP office (local number) and find out how you can get personal assistance with the Plan Finder.

Your children, grandchildren, neighbors and tech-savvy friends can also help.

The Plan Finder is a terrific tool in helping you make the right choice. It may take a little time, but the savings and peace of mind are worth it.

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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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