By Raymond Billy
Open enrollment for Medicare Part D ends Dec. 31, and Jacksonville senior citizens who need help choosing a plan will have at least one more opportunity to receive professional council.
Helping Others Pursue Enrichment, or HOPE, will present a Medicare Part D forum Wednesday, with representatives from the Area Agency on Aging of East Texas on hand to help steer recipients through the maze of possible options that exist under the drug program.
Medicare Part D is intended to help Medicare beneficiaries pay for their prescription drugs.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) encouraged seniors in his congressional district — which includes Jacksonville — to take advantage of the open enrollment period.
“I encourage Part D enrollees across the 5th District to review their current plan, compare it with a list of their medications, and see if it still fits their needs so that seniors can realize all the benefits that Medicare can offer,” Hensarling said.
Hensarling — who played a role in legislation that created Medicare Part D in 2003 — said seniors can save as much as $1,200 if they choose the proper plan.
Toni McCarty, health information and referral service coordinator for HOPE, said even seniors who are content with their arrangements should attend the Medicare forum to find out what options are available.
“You may be satisfied with your current plan, but it still doesn’t hurt to look and see if there is anything that could be comparatively better to help serve you,” McCarty said.
McCarty also stressed that help will be available for those who find themselves in the Part D coverage gap — where seniors whose drug costs are between $2,250 and $5,100 do not receive Medicare assistance.
“A lot of people have had problems when they fall into the gap with Medicare D. There are some programs which will cover the cost of generic medicines through the gap,” McCarty explained. “Seniors need to come and have that checked out to make sure that the program that they are currently on is still serving their needs.”
Those interested in attending HOPE Center’s Medicare Part D forum should make an appointment by calling the center at 903-586-7781. Seniors are asked to bring a list of all the their medicines so that the most cost-effective way of paying for those drugs may be determined by counselors.
This will be HOPE Center’s second Medicare forum this month. The organization held a forum Nov. 9 and may host another if more people are interested in Wednesday’s meeting than can be adequately assisted.