For the first time ever, everyone with Medicare, regardless of income, health status, or prescription drug usage, will have access to prescription drug coverage. This new coverage begins on January 1, 2006. While information is available now and educational sessions are taking place in communities across the country, you can’t enroll until November 15 th. By now, you should have received your Medicare & You 2006 handbook which explains in detail what prescription drug coverage means to you and which plans are available in your area.

Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans have started their advertising across the country.You may want to find out more about some of these options. It might be a good idea to save these materials for review when it gets closer to November 15, 2005.

America, Pull up a Chair
We’ve Got Something Good to Talk About.

Because this new coverage is so important, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to promote a national conversation to make sure that all people with Medicare, and those who care for them, understand this new coverage. This conversation will take place in many different places and in many different ways – it will occur across the kitchen table, in senior centers, at churches, between friends, neighbors, parents and their children, pharmacists and their customers. Because this new coverage is a vital addition to Medicare that will help people save money and live better, healthier lives, it’s important to have information about it. It will extend the promise of modern drug treatment to everyone with Medicare. If you have Medicare, we strongly urge you to learn more about this new coverage. Right now, you can talk about this with many different people and start thinking about the coverage you want. And, if you have family and friends with Medicare, we ask that you help them learn more about it, too.

People are talking about Medicare prescription drug coverage right now in many different settings. To provide additional help and places for these conversations to occur, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has created more than 140 community-based education networks and is working with nearly 10,000 local partners including the State Health Insurance Programs (SHIP) and Area Offices on Aging all across the country. These networks and partners provide a variety of services, from distributing materials to educational meetings to personalized counseling for people with Medicare. To help these groups and to help you, CMS has developed a variety of resources such as consumer brochures, on-line tools, and educational materials.

All of the CMS materials and on-line tools are available now. They are listed below as part of a four-step process to help you understand the process of choosing Medicare prescription drug coverage. For each step in the process, there’s an on-line tool that can help you. Remember that Medicare is here for you – 24/7 – at 1-800-MEDICARE. Our customer service representatives will provide information and answers to your questions. Also, visit , or contact 1-800-MEDICARE or to find out about local counseling and assistance available in your area.

Four Steps