Senator Lucio's Letterhead

CAPITOL UPDATE FROM SEN. EDDIE LUCIO, JR.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Communications Director
Phone: 512-463-0385

Sen. Lucio Encourages Review of Medicare Enrollment

As Chair of the Joint House and Senate Legislative Committee on Aging, I am concerned with issues affecting our senior population, including Medicare.

The federal government is currently in the middle of the Medicare Open Enrollment period that started Nov. 15 and ends Dec. 31, 2009.

I urge all of our South Texas seniors who have not yet enrolled to carefully review the Medicare paperwork that arrived in the mail to help them make better-informed decisions regarding their healthcare services and providers.

To their loved ones who assist in these matters, I also urge them to review the information carefully.

If people are going to choose less costly plans, they should look for those with benefits similar to what they're receiving. For example, while some plans may cost less, they may not cover the prescription drugs the patient requires or other costs.

It is also important to understand the difference between co-payments for prescription drugs, which pay a specific amount for a drug, and co-insurance, in which the insured person shares the cost with the insurance company. A typical split for co-insurance is 80/20, which means the insurer covers 80 percent and the insured 20 percent.

I know it's not a lot of fun going through stacks of paperwork and health insurance forms, but although tedious, the time spent will be well worth the result.

As costs for medical care continue to soar, some health insurance companies are starting to determine the amount of medication they think a patient should be taking. Most of us feel that this decision is strictly the doctor's role, so it is critical that people be fully aware if the health insurance company selected will make dosage decisions for the insured.

Now is the time for people to review their own personal paperwork, talk to their family members and physicians, and carefully decide what plan works best for them individually.

Mr. Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare Management and acting director of the Center for Drug and Health Plan Choice, has said, "Medicare beneficiaries will continue to have a wide range of health and drug plan options in 2010"

This is good news. We just want to make sure that our South Texas seniors pick the best plans through careful examination of their options.

And these tips aren't just good for seniors on Medicare and their caregivers, but they are excellent guides for all of us as we make health insurance decisions during times of change and increasing costs.

For questions, please contact (1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227) in English or Spanish. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048 or talk with their employer or physician. On the web, information can be obtained at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/openenrollment.asp.

As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my Communications Director, 512-463-0385.

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