By: Carol Carter | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2015
LIFE’s MAP team (Medicare Assistance Program), from left: Cindy Loftin, MAP Coordinator; Cindy Reese and Kathleen Seifert.
For most Medicare beneficiaries, the Medicare Open Enrollment period, which runs through December 7, is their only opportunity each year to enroll or change their healthcare and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
Unfortunately, most beneficiaries don’t take time to review their drug coverage – and end up paying more than necessary because they are tied to a plan that no longer fits their specific prescription needs. In fact, it is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay too much for their Part D coverage because they aren’t on the most effective plan.
Medicare Part D helps thousands of Oklahoma Medicare beneficiaries, especially those with modest incomes or extremely high prescription drug costs, enabling them to better afford the medications they need for both chronic and life-threatening health conditions.
According to Cindy Loftin, coordinator of the Medicare Assistance Program at LIFE Senior Services, “Beneficiaries need to review their Part D coverage for 2016. Even if they have been satisfied with their current plan, the across-the-board changes each year in plan costs, co-pays and coverage make it critically important for beneficiaries to take a fresh look at their coverage options.”
For 2016, there are 24 stand-alone Part D plans in Oklahoma, down from 30 this year. All the plans have changed aspects of their 2016 coverage, whether it be their premiums, deductibles, copays and/or their formularies. The only way for beneficiaries to effectively compare plans is using the Plan Finder on the Medicare.gov website and inputting their prescriptions.
The Medicare Assistance Program at LIFE opened its Part D Enrollment Assistance Clinic October 15, offering free, personalized, unbiased assistance based on beneficiaries’ individual prescription needs. The program serves Medicare beneficiaries, both seniors and adults with disabilities, throughout northeast Oklahoma. According to Loftin, “At the clinics we work with beneficiaries one-on-one using the Medicare website to help them compare, select and enroll in a Part D plan that best fits their individual prescription and budget needs. In just one hour, we can help them make sure that they are getting the best coverage for their money.”
LIFE Senior Services, a Tulsa-based non-profit United Way organization, has helped more than 25,000 Medicare beneficiaries with their Part D decisions since the federal program first came into existence in 2006. Last year, 64 percent of the beneficiaries LIFE counseled either switched Part D plans or enrolled for the first time, saving an average of more than $1,900 per person. Altogether, LIFE helped beneficiaries save more than $1.6 million on their prescription drug costs for 2015.
The Part D Assistance Clinics are held at LIFE Senior Services, 5950 E. 31st St., just west of 31st and Sheridan in Tulsa. Appointments are required and can be made by calling LIFE’s Medicare Assistance Program at
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