Seniors have until end of month to make Medicare decisions

Published 7:52 am Thursday, December 9, 2010

Senior citizens in the Austin area who are weighing their options for the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans have until Dec. 31 to make their decisions.

Because different plans offer different coverage, it’s important to find out if physicians and clinics are covered under the plan.

Under the Part D plan this year, beneficiaries are covered up to just over $2,800. When that amount is reached, recipients pay the full cost of their medications out-of-pocket up to just over $4,500, when catastrophic coverage kicks in.

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“In 2011, beneficiaries will only have to pay 50 percent of name-brand drugs rather than the full amount, and they will pay only 93 percent of the cost of generics,” said Jean Wood, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging.

Wood says counselors can also help seniors apply for prescription benefits under the Extra Help program offered by Social Security, that can yield savings of up to $3,900 dollars each year.

A person must be enrolled in a Medicare Savings Program to access the Extra Help program, however. Once enrolled, they automatically receive the benefits.

Minnesota News Connection contributed to this report.