Low-Income South Dakotans to receive drug discount cards

Low-Income South Dakotans to receive drug discount cards Some low-income South Dakotans on Medicare will automatically be enrolled in a Medicare-approved drug discount card and receive a $1,200 credit to help pay for their prescriptions, according to Department of Social Services Secretary James Ellenbecker.

People not yet enrolled in a drug discount card program who are in the Medicare Savings Program, a state program which helps pay Medicare premiums, will automatically receive a card in the mail during October. They can use the drug discount card immediately to get savings at pharmacies. In addition to the card, they will receive instructions on how to activate a $1,200 benefit.

"Those who are in the Medicare Savings Program meet the income test to make them eligible for the $1,200 credit," Ellenbecker said. "This is a free credit that low-income people can use right away to help pay for their prescriptions."

The credit is $600 a year now and again in January. Any portion of the credit that is unused at the end of 2004 can be carried over into 2005. People can activate the credit by calling their randomly-selected drug discount card sponsor or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Because beneficiaries will receive a randomly selected card, they have the option of choosing another drug discount card. They can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit www.medicare.gov to see if their favorite pharmacy takes the card they received and what discounts are available.

South Dakotans who have questions about the drug discount cards can also call the South Dakota Senior Health Information and Insurance Education (SHIINE) program at 1-800-536-8197.

SHIINE can help answer people's questions about the drug discount cards or help them enroll in a different plan.

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