Medicare Prescription Plans Are Confusing

by Donna McCollum

Senior citizen Helen Sweeney has this to say about Medicare's Prescription Drug Plan. "It's confusing. Overwhelming. We just don't know what direction to go in. I'm confused. I'm 75. That's bad enough."

Mrs. Sweeney is blaming her age for not understanding the plan that seniors began enrolling in on Tuesday. In reality, the program that offers 47 approved plans from 21 different companies is confusing to just about everyone. Sweeney thinks she's heard about them all. "It seems like the more we try to comprehend it, the worse it gets. Then, to top it off, these insurance people are sending us things that we need to sign."

Certified Part D enrollers Sam and Jan Jarboe are helping seniors through the difficult process. They're pleased when a senior finds they can afford their medicines. The Jarboe's say a common misconception about Medicare Part D is it's for seniors in a lower income bracket. Sam Jarboe said, "I think there are 29 million Americans that don't have a pharmaceutical plan that's on Medicare, and this is for them. Every one of them."

Seniors with extremely high prescription bills will benefit from the right plan. Tip Smith has a good retirement plan but, after a bypass surgery, he's been loaded down with lots of prescription costs. "Hopefully, we will be able to save maybe 1/3 or something like that because we're running right now, probably, close to $700 a month drug bill."

Choosing a plan that covers your specific medications requires lots of searching, and you don't always find what you're looking for. Smith spent time thumbing through big binders of plans, looking to see if his medications were covered. He reported, "Well, not all of them, but most of them. Thank goodness."

Helen Sweeney also has a better peace of mind, thanks to some help.

Points To Remember

  • All Medicare recipients are eligible.
  • Obtain your medication list before shopping for a plan.
  • Know if you can take generics. Most plans pay for only generics.
  • November 15, 2005 - May 15, 2006 is the open enrollment period.
  • Sign up to avoid late fees.
  • January 1, 2006 coverage begins for early enrollees.

Prescription Drug Plan Seminars

  • November 16 & 17, 9:00 a.m. -5 p.m. @ Nacogdoches County Expo Center
  • November 18, 11:00 a.m. @ Garrison Senior Citizen Center
  • November 21st, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. @ Pitzer Garrison Civic Center

Educational web site at