Medicare Confusion

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Seniors who qualify for Medicare have less than a month to enroll in the "Part D" plan. However, several are becoming more and more afraid to enroll because of scams and misunderstandings.

Thousands of elderly in Alabama are either being sold the wrong plans, or are not being enrolled when they think they are, and this is leaving many without coverage.

Carol Ann Williams’ mother Elaine has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"She has no Medicare. If I take her to the hospital right now, she has nothing," said William.

She is also sick with bronchitis and asthma. The cost of her 13 prescription medications plus her breathing equipment runs about $150 a month, none of which is being covered by insurance.

Mollie Fallon at Alabama Legal Services said, "This client is actually enrolled in a Medicare advantage plan, a prescription drug program with one company and a prescription drug program with another company. All this money is being taken out of her social security check."

However, since Elaine has been sold more than one insurance plan; neither of the plans are effective. All she needed was one plan under Medicare Part D which would have included doctor's visits and prescription coverage.

Her insurance salesperson sold her the three plans anyway.

"Certainly there are people who are going to take advantage in situations like this. We would like to think it's a misunderstanding, hopefully," said Fallon.

It's a misunderstanding that could be costly.

"Without the pills, she could have a heart attack or that vein could be blocked and she doesn't have the medicine for it. But without the breathing medicine, she'll die. They're taking my mother's life by all this confusion," said Williams.

All of the plans were sold to Elaine in December, and it's taking several weeks to get her out of her current insurance plans.

There is an appeal process in place but it could take weeks for answers or solutions to the problem.

Anyone else who is having these problems may need private counsel for help.

For direction or information about the Medicare Part D plan, contact the Center for Medicare Services.

The deadline to enroll in "Part D" is May 15.