Open enrollment season for
Medicare Part D starts
Send a link to a friend
[November 17, 2008]
CHICAGO -- Seniors and other
Medicare recipients throughout the country can now change their
prescription drug coverage as part of Medicare Part D's open
enrollment season. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich is encouraging eligible
Illinois seniors to make time to review their current coverage and
also to apply for Illinois Cares Rx. Illinois Cares Rx provides
prescription drug coverage that fills in gaps created by Medicare
Part D and also provides drug coverage to people who do not have
Blagojevich signed the "No Senior or Person with Disability Left
Behind" law in 2005, creating the Illinois Cares Rx program, the
nation's most comprehensive response to fill in the gaps created by
the federal prescription drug program. Illinois Cares Rx has provided extra assistance
to thousands of Illinois Cares Rx members and other Medicare
difficult economic times, families are making sacrifices in order to
put food on the table or even to just keep the lights on,"
Blagojevich said. "Many seniors and people who have disabilities are
forced to go without their medications because they can no longer
afford to pay for them. I strongly urge people with disabilities and
seniors to find out if they may qualify for Illinois Cares Rx so
that they get those medicines and stay healthy."
During the "open enrollment season," which started Nov. 15 and
runs through Dec. 31, Medicare beneficiaries can change their
Medicare Part D plans. Illinoisans enrolled in Medicare should
review their current plan to determine whether there is another plan
that would best address their health and financial needs. Illinois
seniors and people who have disabilities can apply for Illinois
Cares Rx at any time during the year.
In 2009, the standard federal Medicare Part D prescription drug
program will pay 75 percent of prescription drug costs up to $2,700
after a $295 deductible, with a regional average premium of $30.18
per month. Beneficiaries are responsible for all of their costs
between $2,700 and $6,153.75, with the plan paying 95 percent of
costs beyond that top threshold. The gap where a beneficiary has to
pay all the drug costs, between $2,700 and $6,153.75, is commonly
referred to as the "doughnut hole." Illinois Cares Rx provides a
safety net for seniors and people with disabilities so that their
out-of-pocket costs do not increase when they are in the doughnut
To receive Illinois Cares Rx benefits, Medicare-eligible members
must be in a Medicare Part D plan coordinating with Illinois Cares
Rx. Several Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans are
coordinating with Illinois Cares Rx in 2008. There are also a number
of Medicare Advantage companies coordinating with Illinois Cares Rx
this year. The stand-alone prescription drug plans are available
statewide. Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans may be
available only in certain areas of the state.
Individuals eligible for the Illinois Cares Rx program may also
be eligible for additional wraparound benefits from the state's
Circuit Breaker program. The Circuit Breaker program provides a
property tax relief grant for certain individuals in addition to an
annual $54 discount on the license plate fee for one vehicle. These
benefits, including Illinois Cares Rx, can be accessed by applying
on one application.
Individuals applying for Illinois Cares Rx online should have the
following information available: Social Security numbers, amount of
property taxes paid in 2007, amount of rent paid in 2007 and a copy
of 2007 federal tax returns. Individuals can file their 2007
applications through the end of the year. However, the 2008
application will not be made available until mid-January 2009.
[to top of second column]
New federal rules are meant to protect consumers against
marketing fraud in the sales of Medicare prescription drug plans and
Medicare Advantage plans. According to these new rules, individuals
who contact people about any type of private Medicare coverage:
Must be licensed by the state.
May not make unsolicited contacts with prospective beneficiaries,
such as door-to-door sales, cold calls or approaching you in a
Must have an appointment in advance before coming to your home.
Must arrange with you in advance about the type of products that
will be discussed during a scheduled sales appointment. At the
appointment, the salesperson may not try to sell you other types of
insurance coverage other than the types agreed upon in advance.
May not try to sell you products not related to health care (such
as a life insurance policy or an annuity) during a sales or
marketing presentation of a Medicare prescription drug or Medicare
May not attempt to sell you a plan in certain health care
settings, such as in a doctor's office or in a pharmacy.
May not attempt to sell you a plan at an educational event.
May not offer you free meals at promotional or sales events.
May not offer you gifts or other promotional items whose value is
in excess of $15.
Illinois seniors and people with disabilities who want to find
out if they are eligible for the Illinois Cares Rx program, who want
to enroll in it, who need assistance with Medicare Part D enrollment
or who would like to find the nearest SHIP office should call the
Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966
(888-206-1327 TTY), call the Senior Health Insurance Program at
1-800-548-9034 or visit http://www.illinoiscaresrx.com/.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]