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MEDICARE PART D MAIN PAGE

WHAT IS MEDICARE PART D?

HOW DO I SURVIVE THE MARKETING AVALANCHE AND AVOID SCAMS?

WHERE CAN I GET HELP?

   

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

Get Basic Information.
If you are eligible for Medicare, you will receive the “Medicare & You 2008" handbook by mail. You can also get more information from Medicare's website http://www.medicare.gov/. Also, click on WHERE CAN I GET HELP? to find out how to contact your local Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (“SHIP”) and for links to other helpful websites.


Understand Your Choices.
You have two important decisions to make:

1) Should you enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan?

2) If so, which plan is right for you?

Answering the following questions will help you decide:

Do you already have prescription drug coverage under a State pharmacy programs?

If you already have coverage under one of the state programs listed below and are Medicare-eligible, you MUST enroll in a Medicare Part D plan by December 31, 2007 to continue receiving prescription drug coverage.

Examples of such State pharmacy programs are: Medicaid (not including HealthChoice Managed Care organizations); Maryland Pharmacy Assistance Program; Maryland Pharmacy Discount Program; Senior Pharmacy Discount Program. Click here for more information about these programs.

Do you already have prescription drug coverage under the State Retiree Health Benefits Program?

If you do, either as a State retiree or a retiree's spouse or dependent, your coverage will not change as long as you continue to qualify for it. You can choose to keep that coverage by itself, or to enroll in a Medicare Part D plan which can either replace your State retiree coverage or function together with your State retiree coverage.

You should receive more information about your choices from the State Retiree Health Benefits Program, and you can click here for more information as it becomes available. See also NOTICES OF CREDITABLE AND NON-CREDITABLE COVERAGE below.

Do you already have prescription drug coverage under a different federal program?

If you do, your coverage will not change as long as you continue to qualify for it. You can choose to keep that coverage or enroll in a Medicare Part D plan. Keep in mind that other federal programs may offer better coverage than Part D plans.

Examples of other federal programs include: TRICARE, the Department of Veteran's Affairs; the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (“FEHB”). You should receive notices about your choices from these other plans in fall, 2005. READ THESE NOTICES CAREFULLY AND SAVE THEM. See also NOTICES OF CREDITABLE AND NON-CREDITABLE COVERAGE below.

Do you already have other private prescription drug coverage with an employer, a union, etc.?

If you do, you MAY OR MAY NOT be able to continue that coverage. You should receive notices from your employer, former employer, or union, or from a Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Insurance) policy. These notices will let you know whether your coverage will continue, and whether it meets Medicare's guidelines for “creditable” coverage allowing you to avoid a penalty if you enroll later in a Part D plan. READ THESE NOTICES CAREFULLY AND SAVE THEM. You must make sure you choose the best option available to you.

 

*NOTICES OF CREDITABLE OR NON-CREDITABLE COVERAGE*

If you currently have prescription drug coverage under the State retiree plan, another federal plan, or a private plan, you may be better off staying with those plans instead of enrolling in Medicare Part D. If you receive a “Notice of Creditable Coverage” from your current plan, it means that your plan is at least as good as Medicare's standard Part D plan, and may even be better. It also means that you will not be subject to a penalty for enrolling in a Part D plan later if your current plan or your personal circumstances change.

Are you interested in obtaining prescription drug coverage through a Medicare Advantage Plan which might offer lower costs, but would also provide your health benefits and limit your choices for health care providers?

Instead of enrolling in a Medicare prescription drug plan, you may be able to obtain drug coverage at lower cost through a Medicare Advantage Plan. The Medicare Advantage Plan would also provide your health benefits. It may offer lower overall costs, but will limit you to physicians and providers who participate in the plan.

Compare Prescription Drug Plans.
If you must, or you decide you should, enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan, be very careful to choose the best plan for you. Take the following steps:

1) Make a list of the medications and dosages you take.

2) DO NOT NECESSARILY ENROLL WITH THE FIRST OR EVEN SECOND PLAN YOU LEARN ABOUT! Marketers may try to rush you into a decision. Take your time.

3) For each plan available in Maryland, check:

  • which drugs it offers;
  • which pharmacies it uses;
  • what you pay for premiums, deductibles, and prescription co-payments.

You can compare by:

  • Going to http://www.medicare.gov/. There is a “Drug Plan Finder” tool under “Search Options.”
  • Calling 1-800-MEDICARE. Someone will be able to search the “Drug Plan Finder” for you and send you a printed copy of the results.
  • Visiting or calling your local Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (“SHIP”) office. Click here for contact information.

Enroll in the Right Plan for You.

Timing: If you are Medicare-eligible and do not have any drug coverage, or your current drug coverage will not continue after January 1, 2008, YOU MUST ENROLL in a plan between November 15, 2007 and December 31, 2007 in order to have coverage beginning January 1.

Ways to enroll:

  • Through the company offering the plan you choose. You may be able to enroll by paper application, on the company's website, or over the phone. BE SURE that, whatever method you choose, you are dealing with a legitimate, Medicare-approved company, the company's real website, and an actual representative from the company. Click on HOW DO I SURVIVE THE MARKETING AVALANCHE AND AVOID SCAMS for more information about avoiding pitfalls.
  • Through Medicare, either online at http://www.medicare.gov/, or by phone at 1-800-MEDICARE. Not all plans will offer this option. Again, be sure you are on the correct website or talking to an actual Medicare employee, particularly because you will have to provide your Social Security and Medicare numbers in order to enroll.
 

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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