Time running out to make Medicare changes

December 6, 2011 2:46:44 PM PST
Time is running out for people to sign up for a plan that could save a lot of money on prescription drugs.

People on Medicare have until midnight on Wednesday to make the appropriate changes.

The savings have to do with something called the "doughnut hole" - a complicated gap in Medicare coverage.

At the Manhattan Valley Senior center in Morningside Heights, anyone who's paying out-of-pocket for all their medications knows all too well about what's known as the "doughnut hole."

It's a gap in coverage for your prescriptions when you have Medicare, where you pay for everything until you reach what's called "catastrophic coverage."

Isabel Lopez, 73, was in that hole for the past 2 months and her stomach medicine is not cheap.

"I have to pay 145 dollars for it," she said. "Every month."

She also had to pay for medication for cholesterol and high blood pressure.

The Obama administration wants people to know that because of health care reform there have been savings in the so-called doughnut hole. Sizable savings.

"For instance, a 7 percent deductible on generic drugs to help them out that began last year, and now this year, it's another 7 percent plus 50 percent on brand name drugs," Jeff Hall of the Center for Medicare Services explained..

More than 2 and-a-half million people with Medicare are saving more than $1.5 billion dollars on their prescriptions. That's about $569 per person. In New York state, the average savings is about $650.

Seniors with questions can call 800-MEDICARE.

You can also enroll online at www.medicare.gov