If you or someone you care about is enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan, it’s important to know about the Open Enrollment Period (Oct 15th through Dec 7th) and why you should do a comparison every year.
Medicare Part D insurance is the plan that helps pay for prescriptions for people who are eligible for Medicare. The total cost to fill prescriptions consists of any plan deductible, monthly premiums, and any co-pays at the pharmacy.
Even if you are happy with your current plan, you should still do a comparison because the details of each plan can change each year. If you take no action, your current plan will remain in effect.
Potential Yearly Changes
The 2013 deductible limit is $325, but plans are allowed to have a lower deductible or no deductible at all. Your existing Part D plan may have changed their deductible for the upcoming year and might not be as competitive.
2. Co-pays at the Pharmacy
Each Part D plan has a unique relationship with each pharmacy. The relationship between your plan and your favorite pharmacy might have changed. If you want to stick with your pharmacy, there may be a less expensive plan. If you are concerned about costs, switching to a plan that has a preferred pharmacy in your area may also significantly lower your costs.
3. Monthly Premiums
Monthly premiums can go up, can even go down, or may not change at all for next year. Keep in mind that the premium is only one part of the cost – and the cheapest premium may not be the least expensive way to go when adding in the deductible and co-pays.
4. Mail Order Options
Many plans offer a mail-order option that can help save you time and money. Prescriptions are filled for 90-days at a lower cost and you save time by having them delivered to your door. Your doctor’s office can help get you set-up with a mail order plan by faxing over your current prescriptions.
5. Your Prescription Needs
The least expensive Part D plan is based on who you are as a consumer. If your prescription needs have changed since the last time you picked a plan, then sticking with your current plan may not be the best option.
How to Compare Medicare Part D Insurance Plans
1. Help is available online.
Medicare has a wonderful online tool to help you compare the plans in your area.
- Go to Medicare.gov and click on the Find Health & Drug Plans box to use the online tool.
- Find a list of your state’s available plans but only the Medicare online tool will add up all your costs – including co-pays on your specific prescriptions.
2. Help is available toll-free.
3. Help is available from your caseworker or social worker.
If you or your loved one has a caseworker or social worker that visits them or is part of their living facility, that person should be able to help use the Medicare website to compare Part D plans. You may need to be proactive in asking for this specific assistance.
4. Help is available in your community.
- Call your local Area Agency on Aging to see if they offer Medicare Part D workshops or one-on-one counseling appointments at their site, or help by phone. This nonprofit will offer unbiased information to help you make the best decision for your needs.
- Check with your pharmacy to see if they offer plan comparison assistance at their locations. Keep in mind that they may have a bias since some plans favor specific pharmacies.
When Comparing Keep in Mind . . .
- There is no penalty for changing Part D plans during Open Enrollment each year.
- Any changes in your Part D plan selection take effect on January 1st of the following year.
- The cheapest premium may not be the cheapest plan overall. A higher premium may have a $0 deductible and lower co-pays at the pharmacy – and be the lowest cost plan for you.
- You might be able save a significant amount by switching plans and/or pharmacies.
- If you are on a limited income, you may qualify for extra help to help pay for deductibles, premiums, and your co-pays.
- If you’ve recently learned that you qualify for extra help, you can change Part D plans immediately even if it’s not during Open Enrollment.
Take this opportunity to compare your Medicare Part D plan for the upcoming year in order to get the most for your money. Offer to help any loved ones do a comparison online or get help from their community resources.
What would you advise a friend or family member about Medicare Part D plans? Have you used the online comparison before? Leave a comment!