Help Offered to Understand Medicare Options

By Kiersten Mathieu

Help Offered to Understand Medicare Options

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 11, 2006 at 9:04 AM EDT

Dorothy Bors of Johnson City takes three prescriptions daily.

She now has to rely on Medicare since her former employer cancelled her retirement health insurance.

"I need to know what drugs are covered? And how much they're going to cost?" said Bors.

Benefits under Medicare's new prescription plan went into effect more than a week ago.

But before people go to the pharmacy counter, they still have unanswered questions.

And many people with questions came to get answers at the Johnson City Senior Center.

"It's a hard solution. They give you too many options," said Alex Zevan of Vestal.

Medicare has more than 40 options for people to choose from.

Experts from Medicare, Action For Older Persons and EPIC helped people sort through their choices.

For example, EPIC is New York's own prescription drug plan.

But you can keep EPIC and take advantage of the Medicare D benefit.

"If they take a lot of medication or their drug costs are high, they may see less out of pocket expenses of having both Medicare D and EPIC," said Kelly Sheehan of EPIC.

There are agencies that can help compare prescription plans to find out which one provides the best benefit for you.

But, they will need some information from you first.

"Before you call, it’s very important to have the information on the drugs you are taking, what the dosages are, what pharmacy you want to use and also your Medicare care card. That way they'll be able to help you," said Frank Winter of Medicare.

You can contact Medicare at 1-800-Medicare, EPIC at 1-800-332-3742 and you can set up a one on one appointment with a counselor from Action for Older Persons by calling 722-1251.

Experts say they want to help everyone, so no one goes without a prescription.

If you do not join the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan before May 15, you will have to pay a penalty.

You will be charged one percent of your monthly premium for every month after the deadline.

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