Medicare Confusion Remains Problem

Barbara Wells with the Meridian Senior Center says changes to the Medicaid/Medicare program is confusing for many of the people she sees daily.

"Just when I've talked to a representative, just to understand what they're talking about and I'm not even a senior citizen yet, it's really difficult. It's really difficult," Wells said.

"This new program is in the Medicare Part D program. It is the biggest change in Medicare since its inception 40 some odd years ago," said Robert Northern, pharmacy director at Riley Hospital.

As of Jan. 1, Medicare began offering prescription drug coverage to recipients through more than 40 insurance plans. Although many Medicare recipients have already signed up for the plans, pharmacists say some of them are still being charged the full price for prescriptions. Why? Well, they say because many insurance companies have not yet updated their files.

"They told us because of the volume. They're getting bombarded. They were not expecting this high of volume," said Betty Null, pharmacy director at Mr. Discount Drugs. "We're talking about millions of people across the United States. It is overwhelming for all of them."

However, Null says pharmacies are not the only ones overwhelmed. She says the people who are adversely affected by the backlog are as well, left to foot the bill for their medicine.

"I had a lady that cried because she did not have enough money to get her medicine," Null said.

However, when it comes to being stressed and confused about the process, the recipients are not alone.

"I think there are so many plans out there that it's confusing not only for patients but on the providers side," said Null.

To help medical personnel better understand the changes to Medicare and how they can best assist their customers and patients, Riley Hospital is offering a free seminar for medical personnel only. To register you must call Riley Hospital.

With a May 15 deadline for Medicare recipient's to choose a prescription plan, pharmacists say they are hopeful that things will start settling down over the next few months.


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