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www.aarp.org/bulletin Launches Online Calculator

Many current and future Medicare beneficiaries want to know if they will save money through the new legislation.

AARP is committed to helping its members and all Medicare beneficiaries figure out the all-important "me" question – "does this help me?" By plugging in their current and projected spending levels in the drug benefit calculator at www.aarp.org/bulletin, beneficiaries will be able to get a general idea of how they will fare under the legislation.

The Rx calculator features a user-friendly interface and easily understandable results to evaluate the outcome of the new Medicare benefit. The Website will also include links to a number of related topics that beneficiaries may have questions about, as well as message boards and interactive polls.

Currently Medicare beneficiaries have been engaging in a "kitchen table test." That is, they sit at the kitchen table and add up their current drug costs, as well as what they would spend on monthly premiums, co-payments and deductibles. This helps them determine whether or not they will save money with a Medicare drug benefit. The AARP calculator will begin to help take out the guess work.

"The Bulletin Rx calculator is another tool for AARP members and others to help determine how the new Medicare legislation could affect them," said Michael Naylor, advocacy director for the Association. "We're fighting to make prescription drugs more affordable. One part of that effort is providing the information to understand how changes in the law relate to their personal lives.

"The calculator can, with considerable accuracy, show how much Medicare will pay out of a specific amount of drug expenditures. What cannot be predicted with certainty is just how much those expenditures will be in a future year. I would encourage members to type in hypothetical amounts to see if enrolling in the benefit might be a good strategy for when they confront more costs. Beneficiaries don't have to make a decision on whether or not they wan to enroll until the fall of 2005," he said.

The calculator expresses estimated dollar amounts only for those who do not have health care policies outside of Medicare coverage. Currently 30% of beneficiaries lack prescription drug coverage and as the year progresses, that figure jumps to 40 percent.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to making life better for people 50 and over. We provide information and resources; engage in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy; assist members in serving their communities; and offer a wide range of unique benefits, special products and services for our members. These include AARP The Magazine, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, the monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, a quarterly newspaper in Spanish; NRTA Live and Learn, a quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and the Web site, www.aarp.org. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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