Ill. Attorney General: Make informed decision choosing a Medicare Part D prescription plan

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CHICAGO—With Medicare-approved companies set to begin marketing their Medicare Part D prescription drug plans as of Oct. 1, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reminded Medicare beneficiaries not to rush into a decision or feel pressured by a sales pitch for a particular prescription drug plan.

Madigan reminded Medicare recipients that while companies are allowed to begin marketing their plans on Oct. 1, the enrollment period for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans is from Nov. 15, 2005, to May 15, 2006. The coverage will be available beginning Jan. 1, 2006.

Insurance companies are working with Medicare to offer prescription drug plans. In Illinois, 16 companies have been approved by Medicare to offer stand-alone prescription drug plans. Each company will promote only its own plan, so Medicare beneficiaries must compare the plans to determine which one is best for them based on their own personal needs and circumstances.

Madigan warned Medicare beneficiaries not to rush into a decision or feel pressured by a sales pitch for a particular prescription drug plan. There is time to obtain free, trustworthy help to make a decision about a prescription drug plan, she said.

“Every time there is a new government program, there are new opportunities for fraud,” Madigan said. “Our goal is to help people understand that they need to take their time and be alert for con artists.”

To help determine which prescription drug plan is best for them, Medicare beneficiaries should make note of any current insurance coverage for prescription drugs, and consider whether the new plan would cover the prescription drugs they currently take and whether the beneficiary’s pharmacy is included in the plan’s network.

In Illinois, personalized, local assistance with comparing prescription drug plans is available by calling the Senior Health Insurance Program at 1-800-548-9034. Beginning Oct. 13, 2005, prescription drug plans can be compared online at The same comparison information will be available by calling Medicare at 1-800-633-4227. Medicare customer representatives also will send printed, detailed versions of all the plans available in Illinois.

Madigan reminded Medicare beneficiaries to stay alert for fraud at this time. It is important for Medicare recipients to remember:

Medicare beneficiaries should never give any caller or door-to-door solicitor their Social Security number, bank account numbers or personal financial information.

No door-to-door solicitations are permitted unless the Medicare recipient has invited the caller to their home.

Telemarketers must comply with federal and state Do Not Call laws.

No payment for any Medicare Part D prescription drug plan should be made before Nov. 15.

When Medicare Part D prescription drug plan enrollment begins Nov. 15, Medicare recipients should make sure they enroll with a Medicare-approved prescription drug plan. Consumers may call Medicare’s toll-free number at 1-800-633-4227 to verify if a plan is approved.

Consumers with concerns or information about people misrepresenting themselves or fraudulently promoting the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit should report the situation to Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-243-0618.

From the Oct. 12-18, 2005, issue

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