Here are some important dates to remember:
- Oct. 15 -- The approximate date Medicare expects to launch its Part D comparison resources at the Medicare web site and 1-800-MEDICARE.
- End of October - This is the time when Medicare and employers will send letters to beneficiaries either notifying them of their automatic Part D enrollment (in the case of Medicaid) or "creditable" status of private insurance.
- Nov. 15 - Open enrollment for Part D plans begins.
- Jan. 1, 2006 - Part D prescription drug benefits begin.
- May 15, 2006 - Open enrollment ends. If you're Medicare eligible and without a creditable private plan, you'll pay a 1% per month premium penalty if you sign up for Part D after this date.
Some Useful Resources
The Access to Benefits Coalition is a group of health organizations working to smooth the transition to Part D, especially for low-income seniors.
The Medicare Rights Center has useful resources and tips for beneficiaries at its web site or by calling (212) 869-3850.
AARP has published a 24-page brochure called "Medicare Rx Drug Coverage: What You Need to Know." It can be ordered on the group's web site.