Forum tries to clear confusion about Medicare drug cards

The new Medicare drug card program has generated controversy and confusion. Monday federal officials tried to limit both as they held a forum for seniors at Ohio State University.

The Medicare discount drug card program began two weeks ago. Seniors and the disabled can sign up for cards distributed by insurance companies and other government approved card sponsors. The card holder can use it to buy drugs at discounted prices.

Some of the companies sponsoring drug cards set up tables outside the auditorium and tried to answer seniors’ questions get them to sign up.

The questions have been many and the sign-ups have been few in the programs first weeks. So far only 7 percent of eligible Medicare participants have requested cards.

Critics of the program say it’s complicated, confusing and often does not offer any better discounts than seniors can get through other drug programs.

Medicare’s Herb Kuhn told the audience a slow start and confusion are to be expected.

One complaint many have is once seniors sign up for a card, they cannot switch until the start of the next year while drug prices can change weekly. Medicare officials say while prices could rise, they predict the market will force down discount card prices.