You should be hearing more about this new prescription medication benefit in the Summer and Fall of 2005. There are also some timelines which may impact your decision-making.The new law goes into effect in 2006.The following is a summary of what you can expect until then:

July -

Beneficiaries were informed in July if they are automatically eligible for low income benefits(without having to apply). They are eligible if they receive medicaid, SSI, or their Medicare premiums are paid by their State.

Until August:

The Social Security Administration(SSA) will mail out applications to beneficiaries on limited incomes who may be eligible for low cost coverage. They can apply with the SSA by phone(800-772-1213), at a local SSA office, or at a local Medicaid office. Beginning in early July individuals can apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov. The SSA will also inform beneficiaries if they qualify..


Those who are retired and have health coverage from their employer and/or /union may be informed of any changes to their plan.

Late September to Early November:

Beneficiaries who have a medigap or supplemental policy which covers medication should hear from their insurer about any changes and options for their plan. The medigap plans may continue to cover prescriptions but may not sell new such plans


All beneficiaries receive the 2006" Medicare and You handbook". Beginning on October 13 you can compare coverage options for your geographic area. Note that options will vary by geographic area. After October 13 you can obtain this information at 800-633-4227 or www.medicare.gov.

November 15, 2005

Open enrollment begins. These new benefits are voluntary but there may be higher premiums if the beneficiary enrolls after May 15, 2005.

December 31:

The drug disocunt card ends(you can no longer buy one)though the card can be used the until May 15, 2006(unless the beneficiary signs up for Medicare drug coverage sooner).

May 15, 2006:

The first open enrollment period ends.