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Seniors encouraged to review Medicare plans

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealRenate Daniels, a Medicare S.H.I.P. volunteer, talks with Jerry Welch on Tuesday during an event at the Carson CIty Senior Citizen Center to help seniors navagate the Medicare and Medicade programs.
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Seniors need to examine their Medicare prescription drug coverage by the end of the month to find the best plan available, federal officials said Tuesday in Carson City.

The coverage and cost of some Medicare drug prescription plans will change next year, said Mark Manfredi of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, so seniors must start, switch or cancel plans by the end of the month.

Some plans will go up by as much as $25 a month, he said.

Manfredi and federal health care representatives helped seniors with their plans at the Carson City Senior Citizen Center on Tuesday.

Plans are changing this year more than usual, Manfredi said, because the government wants more competition among plans available to people 65 and older.

“The concept is freedom of choice,” he said.

Pat Lamkin said she went to the talk because the cost of coverage for her seven prescriptions went up this fall.

She said she tries to stay with generic drugs and isn’t sure what caused the increase. She needed the medicine to treat her high blood pressure, so she didn’t have a choice but to pay.

“You just did,” she said.

Bob Zieger said he went to the talk because he has partial Medicare coverage and wanted to know how to get more. But much of the information put out by the government is confusing, he said, so he wasn’t sure what he needed to do.

He said he’ll have to get private insurance to help with the costs of treating his bad joints and bones if Medicare doesn’t.

“I’m just an old wreck,” he said.

Renate Daniels, a State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) volunteer, said managing Medicare plans can be so frustrating for seniors it makes them angry.

The program gives many choices, she said, so it’s good when seniors can get help.

Manfredi said the stop in Carson City was part of a national tour to teach seniors about their drug prescription plans. The tour was necessary to help seniors find the coverage they need, he said.

Programs for low-income seniors are available, too, covering up to $16,000 a year in costs.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.