05/11/06 — Medicare drug plan signup Saturday

View Archive

Medicare drug plan signup Saturday

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 11, 2006 1:49 PM

The Medicare Part D prescription drug plan deadline is May 15, but Wayne County residents who have not yet registered will have one more opportunity Saturday.

Officials say many county residents have not yet signed up for the prescription drug benefit, which offers some assistance with drug costs based on income.

Wayne County Service on Aging Director Yvonne McLamb said this weekend's Senior Art Show and Sale will be an opportunity for seniors to gather, but also a chance for eligible seniors to enroll for Medicare prescription drug program.

Only 3,912 residents have enrolled for Medicare since last November out of about 30,000 who are eligible, but Mrs. McLamb said the numbers can be misleading.

More than 4,200 residents were automatically eligible and enrolled into the new plan because of a previous Medicare or Medicaid plan, she said.

In North Carolina, about 963,000 of 1.3 million eligible seniors have enrolled for Medicare, she said.

Overall, about 14,900 county residents are enrolled in some kind of program for drug coverage, but Mrs. McLamb said she would like to see more sign up before the deadline.

"May is Older Americans Month, and we are doing all of these events for that. This is something we can do for the seniors and a way we can show our support," said Melissa Cuddington, Services on Aging assistant director and activities coordinator.

Seniors who do not enroll before or on May 15 will not be able to enroll again until Nov. 15. Waiting until the next enrollment period could cost seniors more, according to the North Carolina Department of Insurance -- a 1 percent penalty per month for each month they do not enroll.

North Carolina has 38 different Medicare Part D prescription drug plans available that carry a monthly premium, deductible and co-payment for prescriptions. If an eligible person has a limited income, he or she could qualify for more help through the Medicare drug assistance program.

Seniors who think they could be eligible for a drug assistance program should call the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program at 1-800-443-9354. For more information locally, seniors should call Services on Aging at 731-1591 or WAGES Medication Management at 734-1178.

Mrs. McLamb said she will enroll people all day Monday who are unable to attend Saturday.

In addition to the signup, local senior citizens will display and sell their oil and acrylic paintings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Wayne County Senior Center located on the corner of John and Walnut streets.

Also during the event, the center will have a yard sale to benefit the senior center and people are encouraged to bring old cell phones for recycling, Mrs. McLamb said.

The senior center will also have free cholesterol screenings for the public.