Prescription Checklist Helps in Choosing Medicare Drug Plan 

During October, seniors will be receiving information in the mail about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit from both Medicare-approved private plans and from the Medicare agency. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is sending every beneficiary in the country a "Medicare and You" guide, which includes information about Medicare's new prescription drug benefit. How will you know which plan is right for you? 

Seniors advocates are urging Medicare beneficiaries to gather together all their prescription bottles and then write down what they are taking. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid suggested that having a checklist of medications will help when reviewing the various Medicare-approved prescription drug plans, which begin enrollment on Nov. 15. 

A personal checklist should include: 

1. The name of each drug, precisely as it appears on the prescription bottle 

2. Dosage (e.g. 75 mg) 

3. How frequently the medicine is taken (e.g., daily, twice daily) 

4. Cost 

An option is to put all medications in a bag, and to simply have that bag at hand when attending an enrollment event. 

Seniors are also encouraged to write down what pharmacies are convenient -- since different plans will have different pharmacy networks -- and to write down if they currently have prescription coverage, since they will want to compare what they have with what Medicare is offering. 

In many cases beneficiaries may make decisions with the aid of a relative or friend so the more information, including Medicare drug related mail, and a list of medications and local pharmacies that can be prepared in advance to build a personal needs checklist can help seniors make the sign-up process much more smoothly. 

The agency provides representatives to answer questions about Medicare's drug coverage at (800) MEDICARE (633-4227) and at local state health insurance program offices, which can be reached through the Eldercare Locator at (800) 677-1116. 

-Compiled through ARA Content News Reports