Weiss Ratings

Advice for Seniors Navigating the
Medicare Prescription Drug Decision
Free Medicare Prescription Drug Planner Now Available from Weiss Ratings

JUPITER, Fla., December 19, 2005 — As families gather for the holidays, it presents an ideal opportunity to discuss health care options with senior family members and help them navigate the confusing process of selecting a prescription drug plan, suggested Weiss Ratings, Inc., the nation's leading independent provider of ratings and analyses of financial services companies, mutual funds, and stocks.

"Many Americans feel overwhelmed by the number of plans now available as a result of the new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. The key is to focus on the specific options that apply to them in order to simplify the process and reduce the risk of selecting the wrong plan for their situation," said Melissa Gannon, vice president of Weiss Ratings, Inc.

To streamline the process and give seniors confidence to select the plan most suitable to meet their needs, a free Medicare Prescription Drug Planner is being offered by Weiss Ratings. It outlines options available, instructions for calculating and comparing annual plan costs, and steps seniors should take to choose the plan that best fits their lifestyle, including:

  1. Review your current coverage.
    Your goal is to have a complete health benefit package, including prescription drug coverage. Before you do anything, understand what you currently have and what it costs you, including any costs associated with a supplemental plan.
  2. Find the cost of a Medicare Part D Plan.
    After gathering critical information about your current coverage and prescribed medications, use the Medicare website to identify and select an appropriate drug plan.
  3. Evaluate five to seven Part D plans.
    With the number of plans averaging 40 per state, it is overwhelming to evaluate every one. Limit the number of plans you compare to a manageable amount, and add new ones only if none meet your requirements. In addition to premium cost, remember to consider other out-of-pocket costs, completeness of coverage, and accessibility.
  4. Consider a Medicare Advantage Plan.
    These plans offer one package for a single premium, so they are worth considering. Be sure to review all the benefits, including prescription drug coverage and provider accessibility, before making a choice.
  5. Assess the Benefits of a Medicare (Medigap) Supplement Policy.
    Medicare Part D alone does not replace benefits from a Medicare (Medigap) supplement policy, therefore part of your cost comparison should include the price of a Medigap policy. These policies include benefits that supplement other Medicare coverage beside Part D. Medigap prices can vary dramatically even within the same city, so research this carefully.
  6. Complete the Medicare Prescription Drug Planner worksheet.
    Use the Planner's easy-to-use worksheet to review and compare the annual cost of prescription drug coverage options.
  7. Seek more information.
    If you need more information about the Medicare prescription drug benefit, take advantage of many valuable resources, including www.medicare.gov.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Planner can be downloaded at no charge at www.WeissRatings.com/PDDPLAN_intro.asp.

Weiss Ratings, Inc. reviews more than 8,000 stocks daily, including all those traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and Nasdaq. Weiss also issues investment ratings on more than 12,000 mutual funds, covering equity, fixed-income, and closed-end funds, and provides financial risk ratings on more than 15,000 financial institutions, including banks and insurance companies. It is the only major rating agency that receives no direct or indirect compensation from the companies it rates. Ratings and analyses are available through www.weissratings.com or by calling 800-289-9222.

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