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Medicare plan confusing seniors

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Senior citizens could begin signing up for the new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan earlier this month, but some are saying the plan is so confusing that they are likely to throw up their hands and simply not enroll.

“There are so many plans,” said Louise Ryan, the state’s assistant long-term care ombudsman. “What makes it challenging is you have to figure out what your needs are. First you have to figure out if you need the plan or not.”

Dini Duclos, chief executive officer the Multi-Service Center in Federal Way, said the agency is directing seniors to the state ombudsman for assistance with the plan. The plan is confusing, she said, and the center doesn’t want to give out misinformation.

Ryan said seniors with good retiree health benefits that provide drug coverage should consider passing on the Medicare plan, since they probably won’t be able to go back to their old insurance if they find they don’t like the new coverage.

Ryan suggested seniors have on hand a list of their medications before they try to figure out which plan would work best for them. “Get your pharmacist to print it so you know exactly what you’re taking,” she said.

Armed with a list of drugs — and perhaps some assistance from local and state agencies — seniors can sit down and begin sifting through the catalogue of coverage options and costs. Washington has about 50 plans, Ryan said, and the details of each are different based on what Medicare was able to negotiate with insurance companies.

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