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Published:January 1st, 2006 12:22 EST
Medicare drug plan program kicks off today amid confusion, complexity

Medicare drug plan program kicks off today amid confusion, complexity

By Inactive Writer

Although the government has actively warned senior citizens about the new Medicare prescription drug plan that kicks off today, millions of them are not yet enrolled in the new plan. In contrast, many enrolled members haven`t received their new identification cards, which leaves pharmacists in Arizona prepared to have customers coming into their pharmacies unaware of what plan they are in or if they have drug coverage.

Phone lines and Web sites were created to help citizens with questions as the selection for a new plan under the vast array of options is made. Some critics of the Medicare plan speculated that the complexity of the benefit might have been keeping seniors away delaying the sign up process. On the other hand, the benefit is being acclaimed as the most significant advance in the program`s 40-year history because of the lower cost for its beneficiaries.

In Arizona, program participants have until May 15 to choose their plan among 80 options. The consequence for those not enrolled by May 15 will be late penalties of 1 percent of their premium for each month they wait. Also, Medicare and AHCCCS dual eligible participants can switch plans once a month, while everyone else can do so annually, beginning next Nov. 15.

Those in need of general information about health plan options and coverage should contact 24-hour Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE, or visit their Web site at The web site has a search tool that allows users to compare Medicare drug plans so that beneficiaries can narrow options, and fill out the enrollment form online.

Note: The author of this article is no longer affiliated with theSOP.