Not actually a question, but two comments in relation to your column "How to navigate murky Medicare drug plans" published in the Chicago Tribune today (Monday, 10/24/16).
1. You state "you must have Part D if you don't have comparable coverage." This is NOT accurate. You can choose to not take Part D, but should you later decide to enroll, you incur a penalty for every month you have not been enrolled and have not had comparable coverage. Pretty much everyone SHOULD enroll in Part D, but you may choose not to if you so wish.
2. In the "Get help" section of your column, you mention a couple options for help, but you do not mention the SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program), This is a nationwide network of trained personnel (mostly volunteers) who have specialized training in Medicare issues. The SHIP counselors provide 1:1, in person, assistance to consumers. In fact, if you look up various issues on the Medicare website, Medicare itself often refers to to contact your local SHIP counselor for more information. If you follow the link https://www.shiptacenter.org/, you can get to a list of where to find SHIP counselors in your state. (I am a SHIP counselor in Illinois).
You might want to, in a future column, correct the Part D information and perhaps also mention the SHIP program as a possible source of assistance.
Thank you. You are correct on both counts. Since the penalty for NOT having coverage is so huge — and grows larger for every year you are not covered — essentially making it unbelievably expensive to pick up Part D later in life when you will be taking meds, I simply warn people they MUST have it!
But you — and several others who wrote in — taught me something new: the SHIP program and its trained counselors. In fact, one reader gave me step-by-step instructions on how to find them. So, here — courtesy of Warren –are directions on how to find SHIP help!
1. Got to www.medicare.gov
2. Click on the right most column ‘Forms, Help, & Resources’
3. Click on ‘Phone Numbers & Websites’, third from the bottom of the drop down menu
4. Either select a State, then select ‘SHIP-State Health Insurance Assistance Programs’
Or on the right side under ‘Other Helpful Web Sites’ click State Health Insurance Assistance Programs