Medicare Card Questions Answered - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/11/04-Tyler

Medicare Card Questions Answered

  What was meant to be the answer to high prescription drug prices, instead has raised a lot of questions. There's been confusion over the new Medicare discount drug cards. So today, there was a seminar at the Tyler Senior Citizens Center to address that problem.

70 year old Rachel Hays and her husband have been taking prescription medication for the past 20 years. Together they take seven medications a day costing sometimes up to 500 dollars a month, and Rachel says they need more help."Everybody that draws Social Security needs help. It just comes to sometimes taking medicine or eating food."

In an effort to ease financial strain for those making that choice, Medicare introduced their new Discount Drug Card in May. However, it didn't make the news for its extreme popularity, instead the card was greeted with hesitation.

"The participation has been well below the levels they expected and I think that's probably because people didn't understand it, didn't know what it would do, and didn't know where to get it," said Wilma DeSoto, Regional Counselor at the Area Agency of Aging of East Texas.

Seniors, eligible for the discount card, were able to get some of those questions answered at today's seminar. Rachel says she got the card application from a pharmacy but didn't think it would benefit her.

"They gave me the application but then I just got to listening to other people saying it's not going to help, it's not going to help. So I figured, well it's not going to help me if it's not going to help them.

But for some the cards do mean relief. One of the most frequently asked question today was where seniors can get the card. The easiest route is through picking up an application at a local pharmacy or contacting medicare directly by phone or email, or your local aging office. Those on medicare only are guaranteed a card if they apply, and some beneath certain income levels can also qualify for a 600 dollar credit.

Now leaving with more answers than questions, Rachel Hays still says the card isn't a cure-all.

"Right now we're making it fine but what are we gonna do if our medicine keeps increasing?"

For more information about the new discount cards you can call the "Kilgore Aging Office" at 903- 984-8641 or toll free 1- 800- 442-8845. If approved, seniors will receive their cards the month after they apply.

Reported by: Braid Sharp bsharp@kltv.com

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