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Gray Matters Fraud Warning 3 Unkindest Cut 4 Legislative Watch 5 Volunteer Opportunities 6 A quarterly publication of Area 1 Agency on Aging Mark the Calendar for Oct. 15; Part D Prescription Drug Plan Enrollment Starts Next Week A n earlier start and longer enrollment period are scheduled for the sixth year of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, but the manager of the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) still worries that beneficiaries will miss the boat. “We want everyone to know: you must compare the plan changes for the coming year to figure out what plan gives you the best coverage for the best price,” Martha Johnson said last week. “A plan that worked for you this year may not work next year. It may or may not be okay — the only way to know is to compare all the plans.” Enrollment begins October 15 and runs through December 7. The 54-day period is a week longer than the Nov. 15 to Dec. 31 enrollment cycle that existed in the program’s previous five years. Johnson said ending the annual enrollment period on Dec. 7 gives insurance companies time to process changes before they go into effect on Jan. 1. Plan changes were available online at on Oct. 1 – after the Gray Matters press deadline of Sept. 30. Medicare is running public service announcements on radio and television to remind beneficiaries of the changes and enrollment period. HICAP sent postcard reminders to make an appointment to compare plans to people it counseled in the past year. “Premiums change. Deduct- ibles change. Plans change the drugs they cover and the prices charged for those drugs,” Johnson said. “You must compare every year to avoid what could be a costly surprise in January.” “There have been some sad stories this year – many of them because people didn’t pick up their mail,” HICAP counselor Susie Hendry said. “One client never saw the Annual Notice of Change from their health insurance carrier; another said the caregiver never saw it. Another moved and the mail never caught up with him. Then they went in to get a prescription filled and found out the plan isn’t there anymore or the drug they U.S Grandparents Percent by Age, 2010 Fall 2011 needed wasn’t covered.” Hendry recalled one client visiting in January – after his failure to check plan changes at the end of 2010 led to an unexpected $1,200 hike to his medication expenses come 2011. “We couldn’t do anything to fix it for him until the (coming) enrollment period,” Hendry said. “It’s sad – and completely avoidable. It pays to deal with it now.” Plan changes are nothing new for the optional benefit that  continued on next page 45-54 20% 55-64 34% 75+ 20% 65-74 26% Source: MetLife Market Institute; U.S. Census population estimates  Local Grandparents on TV, page 3 SPECIAL INSERT TO THE NORTH COAST JOURNAL • THURSDAY, OCT. 6, 2011 1

Gray Matters Fall 2011

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