01/03/2006 12:00 AM

01/03/2006 4:18 AM

Medicare D is a new optional prescription drug program. It is available to anyone who is now eligible for Medicare, which is everyone 65 and older and some younger disabled people.


If you signed up for Medicare drug coverage by Dec. 31, here are some things you need to know.

AT THE PHARMACY: Your coverage began Sunday.

* You may be able to avoid long waits at the drugstore by calling in your prescription refills -- especially if you have already received your new Medicare insurance card. Most pharmacies have automated telephone refills.

* If you received an identification card or other written confirmation of your enrollment, take it to the pharmacy.

* If you signed up online, especially if you did so at the end of the year, take a printout of any confirmation message. It may take a while for the Medicare computer database to be updated.

* There may be restrictions on covered drugs. Some plans require you to get approval before a drug can be dispensed; others may insist you take Drug A before you are allowed to try Drug B. The pharmacy may have to call your doctor, which could cause delays or prevent you from getting the prescribed medicine.

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