Seniors Scrambling Before Deadline

Seniors Scrambling Before Deadline
By: Tiffany Sisson

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --Senior citizens across the country are reaching out for last minute help, signing up for Medicare's new prescription drug plan ahead of Monday's midnight enrollment deadline.  Call centers and pharmacy techs are working overtime, including a number right here in the Heartland.
Betty Smith of Cape Girardeau is reaching out for last minute help.  "I take very little medicine, but you never know when you'll have to," said Smith.
Tech's at John's Pharmacy helps seniors to figure out all of the confusing details.  "I just hesitated because I have been with this (current insurance company) for 20 something years. When you make a change, you need to think about things.  Make a quick decision, you might be sad," explained Smith.
Leah Sheffer, the pharmacy manager at Walgreen's said her staff took calls all day, "A little panicky.  One of the concerns is trying to get through the line, the telephone line, for the 800 lines.  Right now, your competing with everyone who has to sign up today."
Walgreens is also working to help make it simple for seniors through the Rx savings advisor.  "It sums up the plan for you, said Sheffer.
Seniors need only bring in a list of their medications, a pharmacy tech does everything else."It gives you a list of the co-pays, the premium, what tier your prescriptions will fall into.  So, that you know the exact cost per month," explained Sheffer.
Seniors then take that printout home, call medicare or go online, simply repeating the information Walgreen's laid our for you.
If you miss Monday night's deadline, you can't sign up again until November 15th.  In the meantime, lawmakers are considering scrapping the late enrollment penalty,  a permanent surcharge that would increase future premiums by 7% or more.