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Cancer Matters Home Issues & Perspectives Medicare, The A,B,C,D’s…Let’s Talk D

Medicare, The A,B,C,D’s…Let’s Talk D

Louise Knight
Louise Knight, MSW, LCSW-C, OSW-C

You may be confused by the list of letters after the word Medicare.  A, B, C, D...  Who can keep them straight?  There is a web page that can give the answers.  It is

Let's Talk D:  Let me give you the important Medicare D news for 2011.    I am going to start with the letter D and the reason is:  the deadline to apply ends soon.


Medicare offers prescription drug coverage to everyone with Medicare. Even if you don’t take a lot of prescriptions now, you should still consider joining a Medicare drug plan. To get Medicare prescription drug coverage, you must join a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. Each plan can vary in cost and drugs covered.

The Annual Election Period  for Medicare D is the time of year in which you can join, drop, or switch Part D plans. The 2010 Annual Election Period began on November 15 and ends on December 31, 2010.  If you do not enroll/switch by December 31, 2010, you may not be eligible to do so until the next Annual Election Period, which will be October 15 through December 7, 2011.

If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Program, you will have from January 1 to February 15, 2011 to sign up for a stand-alone Part D plan if you drop out of your Advantage plan and return to original Medicare during this time period.

How do I pick a Medicare D plan that is right for me?
Medicare operates a web page called Medicare Plan Finder.  It allows you to search for available plans in your area.  However, finding the right plan for you may depend on the medications you are taking.  So, Medicare has set up a Medicare Plans and Formularies web page to help find a match for the best health and prescription drug plans based on the medications you are taking and your zip code.  Type in the names of your drugs and, with the click of a button, find the plans that match your drug list.

When does my Part D coverage begin? Your Medicare Part D coverage will begin on January 1 and will continue for the entire year.

What if I can't afford the cost of the Medicare D plan? If you have limited income and assets, you may qualify for extra help with the costs of your prescription drugs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) and Medicare are working together to give you this extra help.

The extra help is dependent on your income and savings.  The 2011 figures will be published soon.  The webpage will post the information or you can contact your local Social Security Office.

Is there someone that I can meet with to help me sort through the Medicare D options?  The answer is Yes.  The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) helps you to understand your health insurance benefits, bills and rights. The Maryland SHIP program provides trained staff and volunteer counselors in all 24 counties. Counselors provide in-person and telephone assistance.

Contact a local SHIP Office:

  • Allegany 301-777-5970 ext. 110
  • Anne Arundel 410-222-4464
  • Baltimore City 410-396-2273
  • Baltimore County 410-887-2059
  • Calvert 301-855-1170 & 410-535-4606
  • Caroline 410-479-2535
  • Carroll 410-386-3806 & 1-888-302-8978
  • Cecil 410-996-8169
  • Charles 301-934-0118 & 301-870-3388 ext 5118
  • Dorchester 410-376-3662 ext. 106
  • Frederick 301-600-1604
  • Garrett 301-334-9431 & 1-888-877-8403
  • Harford 410-638-3025
  • Howard 410-313-7392
  • Kent 410-778-2564
  • Montgomery 301-590-2819
  • Prince George's 301-265-8471 & 301-265-8450
  • Queen Anne's 410-758-0848 ext.2724
  • Somerset 410-742-0505 ext. 106
  • St. Mary's 301-475-4200 ext. 1064
  • Talbot 410-822-2869
  • Washington 301-790-0275 ext. 208
  • Wicomico 410-742-0505 ext. 106
  • Worcester 410-742-0505 ext. 106