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Clock Ticking for Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage Signup

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 By David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD, Contact
December 4, 2006

Sioux Falls, SD - South Dakota residents eligible for Medicare "Part D" prescription drug coverage are being reminded they have until the end of the month to enroll or to switch plans. AARP State President Patrick Gross says there's a particular sense of urgency, because premiums and coverages change annually.

"For those that have decided to make a change, we're hoping they'll go ahead and do it prior to December 8. If they find a new program that they like and better fits their needs, it's going to be a lot easier to get it done earlier simply because of the volume of changes that will be made across the country."

Gross says the coverage gap, or "doughnut hole," as it called, continues to be an issue, but he adds many of the plans now offer options to address it.

"For some people, especially those that have very expensive medicines, they need to really look at that because it may be worth a little extra monthly premium. Premiums for these higher grade policies nationwide run somewhere between $25 and $88 a month for generics only."

Gross says if people are satisfied with their plan, they don't need to make changes. He notes that free help is available through AARP or the Senior Help Information and Insurance Education program.

"Anyone with any question at all about their plan, their premiums or their programs should feel free to check on the new plans or review their current plan by comparing it to others. One of the best is to contact some of those folks that are willing to help. They can call 1-800-536-8197."

Gross says 95 percent of eligible South Dakota residents are on a Medicare plan, and that most of the early problems in the program have been corrected.

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