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Seniors urged to sign-up

WINDSOR – Have you signed-up for one of Medicare’s new prescription drug plans?

That’s what Cynthia Davis of the Mid-East Commission wants to know.

Davis was on Monday’s agenda of a meeting conducted by the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. There, she urged the county’s leaders to spread the word concerning the importance of signing up for a prescription drug plan.

“It’s extremely important to get the senior citizens of Bertie County to select a plan no later than May 15 of next year,” Davis said. “If they select a plan after that date, they will be penalized by paying a higher monthly premium.”

Davis added that those choosing not to sign-up should have a private drug plan that covers at least as much as the new Medicare plan.

“If you have an existing plan better than Medicare Part D, I urge you to stick with it,” she noted. “If your plan isn’t as good as Part D or you have no plan at all, I urge you to sign-up before May 15, 2006.”

Davis also suggested that those with business retirement drug plans to closely check what is and is not offered.

The sign-up process is currently underway. Davis said those interested should call the Council on Aging office in their county of residence (in Bertie County, that phone number is 794-5315).

Insurance carriers and other private companies are working with Medicare to offer the plans, ones that range in monthly premiums, co-payments and annual deductibles. In North Carolina, premiums range from $13.27 to $65.03 monthly.

Those considering taking advantage of Medicare’s new drug plan can sign-up if they are currently enrolled in Medicare Part A and/or Part B. Those signing-up for a plan by Dec. 31 will be covered effective Jan. 1, 2006. For those registering after Dec. 31, the coverage begins the first day of the month after the month in which the registration occurs.

There is help available, including lower monthly premiums and reduced costs for prescription drugs, for those with annual incomes at or below a predetermined amount.

For more information, contact your county’s Office on Aging or call, toll-free, 1-800-633-4227.