Local News

Confusion Over Medicare Drug Cards Continues

Posted June 2, 2004

— Medicare prescription drug discount cards could save senior citizens thousands of dollars every year. The program started in May, but reports show people are not taking advantage of it.

It seems seniors are overwhelmed and confused and have not signed up.

Nationwide, 73 cards are available for different prescription drugs. In North Carolina, there are 35 cards.

Specialists answering calls about the new discount drug card are up against a new question -- where is my card? The cards were supposed to be sent out by June 1.

"There is a delay in the feds getting out cards to those who are eligible. Just be patient and you'll get your card," said Carla Obiol of the North Carolina Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

The card delay is the latest problem for the discount drug card program. With 35 cards offering different discounts on different drugs at different pharmacies, many seniors have found it confusing just to sign up.

"I'm 85 years old. I seriously doubt I'm capable of understanding every one of them," said one senior citizen.

Seniors who attended a town hall meeting directed their questions to Rep. David Price, but even he had trouble with answers.

"It doesn't need to be this complicated," Price said.

The biggest confusion continues to be understanding how each drug card works. The confusion is compounded with companies and prices that constantly change. Some recently posted prices were incorrect.

"We knew it would be a challenge, we knew we would get a lot of questions, but I have been startled by the confusion," Obiol said.

For help, call SHIIP at (800) 443-9354.

Anyone who has not received a card they signed up for can expect one in a few weeks.


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