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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Medicare Rx Benefit: Sorting Out the Options

WebMD looks at the choices facing Americans who enroll in Medicare's prescription drug benefit.

Key Dates

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.

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