Plan D enrollment begins

Enrollment and re-enrollment for Medicare Part D drug coverage began Sunday and runs through Dec. 31. Acting Secretary of Aging Martin Kennedy encouraged Medicare beneficiaries to complete their enrollment as early as possible to ensure that coverage is available without any delays on Jan. 1, 2010.
“It’s important that Kansans look at the various plans each year, even if they have been happy with their current plan,” Kennedy said in a press release. “Plans can change from year to year, so beneficiaries need to make sure their plan still meets their needs.”
Beneficiaries who qualify can get extra help paying for premiums, deductibles and co-pays associated with their Medicare Part D plans. Programs also are available to help cover out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare Part A and Part B. These programs can add up to a real cost savings, so beneficiaries should apply and see if they qualify, Kennedy said.
Among the changes this year:
Some Medicare Advantage plans no longer will be available in Kansas after Dec. 31. Almost 7,000 Kansans who are currently enrolled in these plans will need to choose different Medicare coverage for 2010. If a beneficiary has received a “non-renewal” letter from their Medicare Advantage plan, it’s critical that they review their options and enroll in a new plan before Dec. 31. If they don’t, they may lose their drug coverage on Jan. 1, Kennedy said.
Seniors may do a search of the various plans through the Medicare Web site, www.medicare.gov. They also may get free, unbiased help from volunteer counselors with the Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) program by calling 1-800-860-5260.
The area SHICK coordinator is Kathryn Pavlu of the Southeast Kansas Area Agency on Aging. She may be contacted at sekshick@hotmail.com or by calling toll free 1-800-794-2440 or 620-431-2980.