The AARP senior citizen advocacy group is acting as a referral source to link up seniors with people in their areas who can help them, over the phone or in person, decide which of the dozens of available prescription drug plans is best suited to their needs.
Tips for choosing a plan, from AARP's George Kelemen:
• You don't need to analyze all of the 50-odd plans available. By simply applying your personal needs, you can narrow your choices down to four or five plans that are right for you — start your analysis there.
• Use the "three C" rule when analyzing a plan:
Cost: Figure out what you are paying currently for prescriptions.
Coverage: Make list of current prescriptions and dosages.
Convenience: If you have a relationship with a local pharmacy, make sure that pharmacy is part of the plan.
• If you miss the Monday, May 15 deadline for Part D of the Medicare program, the next opportunity to enroll is November 15. A late enrollment penalty will be assesed if you are eligible for enrollment on the May 15 deadline, equal to 1 percent of the average premium for that year for each month delayed, on top of the plan selected.
• If you have little or no need for Medicare prescription drug coverage, sign up anyway — it's great protection against future drug price increases.